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INDEX 321 



From the Painting by David in the Musee de Versailles. 

CAMILLE DESMOULINS Facing page 24 ^ 

From the Painting by Rouillard in the Musee de Versailles. 


From the Painting by Boze in the Musee de Chartres. 


From a Painting in the Musee Carnavalet, 


From an Etching after a Miniature. 


" Blown crystal-clear by Freedom's Northern Wind." 
J. G. Whittier. " Mountain Pictures." 

ON an early spring day in the year 1760 a son 
was born to Maitre Jean-Benoit-Nicholas 
Desmoulins, civil and criminal lieutenant- 
general of the Bailiwick o£ Guise, and to 
Dame Marie-Magdeleine Godart, his wife. 

No doubt there was great rejoicing in M. Des- 
moulins' small whitewashed house in the Rue Grand 
Pont. It is only once in a lifetime that a father can 
celebrate the birth of his eldest son. 

The following day, March 3rd, the little boy was 
baptised in the Church of St. Pierre and St. Paul, and 
received the names of Lucie-Simplice-Camille-Benoist. 
Years later, in writing to his father, he was to say with 
Republican enthusiasm : " Did you guess that I 
should be a Roman, when you christened me Lucius, 
Sulpicius, Camillus ? " 

The little white house with the slated roof stands, 
or, at least, stood quite recently, in the street '' in 
front of the Place d'Armes." The low-ceiled 
panelled rooms remained a few years ago much 
as they were when Camille played in them as a 

Nevertheless, the memories of that " gamin of 
genius " which linger in the town of his birth, after 
the lapse of a century and a half, are very vague and 
scanty. In 1871, when the historian, Jules Claretie, 
visited Guise, he could find few people who had any 
remembrance of the family of Desmoulins. Their 
house was easily identified, some of the older residents 
recalled dim traditions of Camille's tempestuous 



boyhood, a fly-blown portrait was discovered amongst 
heterogeneous rubbish in the attics of the town-hall — 
and that was all. 

In his native town, a statue of Camille Desmoulins 
has since then been erected. Such a reminder is not 
needed by France, and by the world. There was that 
touch of genius in the man which makes him as much 
a bodily presence now in his writings as he was in the 
Paris of 1789. Whilst we read, we seem to feel him 
very near ; his reckless laugh, his hurried, hesitant 
speech are almost audible. . . . He lives still for us, 
one of the most intimate and virile figures of the 
great Revolutionary period, yet another of the " boys 
who will not grow up " of the world's history. 

Camille's father, as we have said, was lieutenant- 
general of the Bailiwick of Guise, a sufficiently dignified 
and honourable post. For the rest, he was a country 
lawyer and something of a scholar besides, who toiled 
in his leisure moments at the compilation of a learned 
and weighty " Encyclopedia of Law " which was 
destined never to arrive at publication. 

We have a very good portrait of M. Desmoulins the 
elder. It may be found in those letters which passed 
between him and his son during the years which 
Camille spent in Paris. It is impossible not to admire 
and reverence the man who is revealed to us. He is 
wise and just, essentially well-balanced and even- 
tempered — he has every quality, in short, which 
Camille lacked. 

The father and son represent two distinct types of 
the Picard character. In M. Desmoulins the elder 
was exemplified that sound common sense and shrewd 
reason which should pertain to the province of Calvin, 
St. Simon and Condorcet. 

As to the younger man, he belonged to the breed 
which an old author, C. M. Saugrain, described in his 
" Nouveau Voyage de France." 

Writing as he did in the year 1720, and speaking of 


the Picards in general, M. Saugrain's words might 
well apply to Camille in particular. 

" We believe that the name of Picardy," he says, " is derived 
from the fact that the Picards are easily piqued or offended. 
... It is commonly reported that the Picards are hot-headed, 
and as they are angered with very little -reason, one willingly 
leaves their province for fear of being involved in quarrels ; 
for the rest, they are very sincere." 

Camille often found his father lacking in ambition, 
and over-fond of deliberation ; there was even one 
period when he thought him callous and hard. But 
these were only temporary misunderstandings. A 
fundamental love subsisted between the father and 
son which nothing really affected, a love which only 
grew stronger until death separated them. 

We know very little of Dame Marie-Magdeleine 
Godart, the mother of Camille. That little is well 
summed up in the few sentences written by M. 
Desmoulins to his son on the day of her death, and 
received by that son when he was himself in the very 
shadow of the scaffold. 

" I have lost the half of myself. Your mother is no more. 
. . . She is worthy of all our regrets ; she loved you tenderly." 

It is an epitaph of which no woman would have 
cause to be ashamed. 

M. Desmoulins had four other children besides 
Camille, two sons and two daughters. 

It is evident that Camille himself, in later years, 
knew curiously little about these younger brothers of 
his, Du Bucquoy and Semery. 

All, practically, that v/e can learn of them is con- 
tained in a letter from M. Desmoulins to his eldest 
son in 1792. This letter was published by the " Journal 
de Vervins " in 1884, and it was plainly written in 
answer to one of Camille's. 

" You ask me, my son," says M. Desmoulins, " for the name 
of your brother, Du Bucquoy, as well as for that of Semery. The 


former is called Armand Jean Louis Domitille, who was born on 
May 5th, 1765. For the past seven years he has served in the 
late Royal Roussillon cavalry regiment, or the iith Regiment 
of the Army of the Midi, and which I beHeve is either in the 
interior at Saumur or at Saint-Jean-d'Angely, for I have had 
no news of him for the last twelve months. 

" The latter is named Lazare Nicolas Norbert Fehcite, born 
on June 6th, 1769, and for the past two years in the loth 
BattaHon of Chasseurs, late Gevaudan, with the Army of the 
North, in which he shows much zeal. He tells me in his last 
letter that he is a forlorn sentinel in a wood, and congratulates 
you on the birth of a son. 

" ' As for me,' he says, ' I also am married. My wife is a 
musket, and I take greater care of her than of myself.' " 

A short time after this letter was written, in 1793, 
Desmoulins Du Bucquoy was killed in the Vendean war. 

The younger brother, the " forlorn sentinel in a 
wood," was captured at the siege of Maestricht, and 
from that time his family seem to have lost sight of 
him and to have believed him to be dead. He was, 
however, known to be living in 1807. 

It is a plain record, this, of the lives of two 
honest soldiers of the Republic. Camille, in the heat 
of his own battle at Paris, fighting with his own weapon, 
was to envy v\^hat he thought to be the cleaner warfare 
of his brothers, and to wish that he could exchange 
his pen for a sword. 

The two sisters were named Marie Emilie Toussaint 
and Anne Clotilde Pelagic Marie. The elder, born in 
1763, was married twice, first to a M. Morcy and 
secondly to a M. Lagrange. She was still alive in 
1837. The younger, who was born in 1767, became 
the wife of a M. Lemoine. Beyond these bare facts 
we know little or nothing of their after lives. 

Camille was first sent, whilst quite a little boy, 
to a religious boarding-school at Cateau-Cambresis. 
Amongst his schoolfellows there was his first cousin, 
Marie Joseph Benoit Godart, son of Godart Brisieux, 
Madame Desmoulin's brother. 


It would seem that from his very earHest youth 
Camille showed unusual precocity and intelligence. 
His father, although so diffident on his own account, 
was not by any means lacking in ambition for his son, 
as he watched the development of the boy's talents. 
He planned that Camille should become a great 
lawyer, an advocate to the Parliament of Paris, but 
unfortunately the money necessary for a thorough 
education was not forthcoming. 

The Desmoulins were a good bourgeois family, 
not in any way aristocratic, but what might be called 
" well-connected." M. Desmoulins, moreover, was a 
comparatively poor man. His wife only brought him 
a small dowry, and he had to provide for a growing 

It seemed that Camille's brilliant career would end 
very prematurely, that the boy must resign himself to 
become, like his father before him, a quiet, provincial 
man of the law. But the life of a country lawyer was 
not for Camille Desmoulins. 

A certain aristocratic connection of the family, one 
M. de Viefville des Essarts, came to the rescue and 
obtained for the little boy a scholarship at the College 
Louis-le-Grand in Paris. 

This was exactly the opportunity for which M. 
Desmoulins had longed, and one day in the month of 
October Camille left his peaceful home in Guise, and 
set out in the Noyon stage-coach for his new life in 

One can imagine the excitement of the quick- 
witted, impressionable child at this entry into the 
strange world of France's capital city, a world where 
men thought and acted in such a different fashion from 
the citizens of Guise. Probably, however, Camille 
soon adapted himself to his changed surroundings ; 
his was not a shy or retiring temperament, and he 
always made friends easily and whole-heartedly. 

A modern writer, M. Georges Cain, himself a pupil 


at Louis-le-Grand, describes his old school in no very 
enthusiastic terms. He speaks of it as black and 
gloomy enough, with its heavy-leaved gate of dread 
memories leading into the Rue St. Jacques. » He tells 
of its moss-grown playgrounds, its smoky class-rooms, 
its punishment chambers high up under the roof, 
where unfortunate culprits were stifled in summer and 
frozen in winter. 

The college was structurally very much the same in 
Camille's day, although the lapse of a century may 
have served to increase its discomforts. In any case, 
it would appear that this boy's school life was a very 
happy one. In after years he always looked back to 
that time with tenderness and regret. 

The College of Louis-le-Grand was at this period 
very fortunate in its head-master. Many of his pupils 
bear witness to the scholarship of the Abbe Berardier, 
and the love which they retained for him all through 
their after lives proves in itself that he was worthy to 
win it. 

We know well what were Camille's feelings towards 
his teacher. Years afterwards, when the pupil was at 
the height of his fame, when he had won the love of 
Lucile Duplessis, when, as he said himself, he had 
nothing left to desire, he would have no other priest 
save his old schoolmaster to marry him and to preach 
the wedding sermon. 

Many of Camille's contemporaries at College were 
destined like him to play prominent, although widely 
differing parts, in the days which followed. There 
were at least three who became prominent journalists ; 
J. S. Peltier of Nantes, Stanislas Freron, afterwards 
Camille's friend and collaborator, and Louis Francois 
Suleau, the brilliant and unfortunate Royalist writer, 
whom Camille christened the " Don Quixote of the 
aristocracy," and who was to die so miserably at the 
hands of a woman. 

There was another of Camille's school companions 


who bore a far more famous name than these ; he 
was Maximilian Robespierre. 

Somehow, it is difficult to imagine that Robespierre 
and Camille can ever have been friends — friends, that 
is, in the true sense of the word. Yet it is undoubted 
that they had a real aifection for each other, then and 
later, and Charlotte Robespierre could write in her 
memoirs : — • 

" I know that my brother loved Camille Desmoullns dearly, 
they having studied together. . . , My brother's friendship 
to him was very strong : he has often told me that Camille 
was perhaps the one of all the prominent revolutionists whom 
he loved the best, after our younger brother and Saint-Just." 

The two men — and therefore the two boys — were 
so utterly unlike in character that it must indeed 
have been a case of the attraction of opposites. 
Possibly what they found to admire in each other was 
the possession of those particular qualities which they 
themselves lacked. 

Robespierre, at least in after years, may have 
admired and envied Camille's power of expressing 
himself in his writings, and thereby moving the 
very souls of men ; perhaps he may have envied 
yet more his power of inspiring love. 

And Camille ? It is possible that he, who described 
himself, by one of his touches of genius, as the weather- 
cock, showing the influence of each changing wind, 
it is possible that he may have envied Robespierre's 
self-sufficient, unbending nature, " which stood four- 
square to every wind that blew." 

Be it as it may, the two always spoke of each other 
with affection, even up to the end — that tragic end, 
when Maximilian, " my old comrade," proved so 
plainly what was the worth of his friendship. 

Like many, one might almost say, like most young 
writers, Camille's first literary attempts took the form 
of verse-making. Indeed, he always believed that he 


was by nature a poet ; as he said at the end of his Hfe, 
writing from prison to his wife : "I was born to make 
verses." Nevertheless, his own opinion notwithstand- 
ing, one is bound to confess that there is little or no 
trace of genius in such of Camille's poetry as has sur- 
vived to this day. One of his earhest attempts at 
versifying belongs to this period. It is a poem, 
written on the occasion of his leaving college, and 
while the verses are irreproachable in their sentiments, 
they are wholly undistinguished from a literary point 
of view. 

It was certainly fortunate for the world that Camille 
gave up his ambition to become a poet, when he dis- 
covered within himself that power which made him 
finally one of the most brilliant journalists of all time. 

During the years which he spent at Louis-le-Grand 
Camille received a very sound classical education. 
His knowledge of the great Latin authors was both 
wide and comprehensive, and it had an immense effect 
upon the literary style of his later years. 

It was the fashion in those days for writers to over- 
burden their pages with quotations and references 
from the classics. Ancient Rome and its manners of 
speech and thought were very much in the mode, even 
before the Revolution. 

There was little or nothing pedantic, however, in 
Camille's use of classical tags and phrases. The atmo- 
sphere of Rome had become, as it were, his native air. 
As a consequence, his quotations have a spontaneity 
and an aptness which is found in the writings of no 
one of his contemporaries. 

Camille, as we shall see later, could take the dry 
bones of a Latin historian, and make of them a sentient 
thing, his own, yet not his own. Perhaps his greatest 
literary work is that third number of the " Vieux 
Cordelier," which directly brought about his downfall. 
Yet it is little more than a paraphrase from Tacitus, 
transcribed with that touch of genius which struck 


at the very heart o£ the " System o£ Terror " of which 
the Roman " Law of Suspect " was but a prototype. 

It was at College that Camille gained that scholar- 
ship which later became such a powerful weapon in 
his skilful hands : but it was not only the literary 
craftsmanship of the great writers of Rome and 
Athens which stirred him to admiration ; he was 
moved to a deep and lasting enthusiasm for the spirit 
of the laws of the early Republics. It was not for 
nothing that this boy wore out six copies of Vertot's 
" Revolutions Romaines " and carried with him every- 
where a volume of the " Philippics " of Cicero. 

We can best judge of the effects of this education 
from Camille's own words in 1793. In his " L'Histoire 
Secrete de la Revolution " he makes the well-known 
statement : " There were perhaps ten of us Re- 
publicans in Paris on July 12th, 1789," and in a foot- 
note he adds, in fuller explanation of this assertion : 
" These republicans were, for the most part, young 
men who, nourished on the study of Cicero at College, 
were thereby impassioned in the cause of liberty. We 
were educated in the ideas of Rome and Athens and in 
the pride of republicanism, only to live abjectly under a 
monarchy in the reign, so to speak, of a Claudian or a 
Vitellius. Unwise and fatuous government, to suppose 
that we, filled with enthusiasm for the elders of the 
Capitol, could regard without horror the vampires of 
Versailles, or admire the past without condemning 
the present ; ulteriora mirari, praesentia secutura." 

In this passage Camille uses the word " republican " 
in its literal sense, the sense in which we now under- 
stand it, namely, as one who wishes for a republican 
form of government. 

Nevertheless it is impossible to realise the point 
of view of the men of that day unless we are aware 
that the term was habitually used during the eighteenth 
century in what can only be described as a theoretical 
and abstract way. 


M. Aulard, in his masterly " Political History of the 
French Revolution," presents this aspect clearly and 
succinctly, after the most patient and exhaustive 
study of the political writings of the period. He en- 
tirely discredits the existence of a Republican party 
in France before 1789, but he beheves that the illusion 
has arisen through the frequent employment of the 
word " Republican " to denote those who were not 
in the least desirous of establishing a republic in France, 
but who hated despotism and desired some system of 
general social reform. In fact, as he says, there had 
arisen amongst the French " a republican state of 
mind, which was expressed by republican words and 

" A republican state of mind " — nothing could 
express more exactly the spirit of the time. It was a 
habit of thought which spread through all classes of 
society, from the Court downwards. 

Versailles set the example, when it played with the 
fire which was afterwards to destroy it. Franklin and 
Washington could not be made the fashion without 
that for which they stood becoming fashionable also. 
La Fayette, as the hero of the populace, represented 
the cause for which he fought in America. 

It is a generally accepted fact that the germ of the 
French Revolution was carried across the Atlantic 
by that band of ardent young men who returned to 
find themselves the idols of the French people, after 
lending their swords and their fortunes to the support 
of a rebellion against kingly authority. 

Yet there was also inspiration to be drawn from a 
source nearer at hand in point of geography, if further 
removed by time. Although Camille and those who, 
like him, were of a classical turn of mind, might seek 
for examples amongst the heroes of antiquity, the 
leaders of the modern English Revolution were well- 
known and well-admired by the liberal Frenchmen 
of the reign of Louis XVI. Pym and Hampden were 


names to conjure with amongst the leaders of the new 
thought in France, and the works of Algernon Sidney 
were even more widely read on the Continent than in 
his own native country. 

It was then in this atmosphere of theoretical re- 
publicanism that Camille Desmoulins grew from a boy 
to a man. The weathercock now for the first time 
vibrated to the touch of that keen northern wind, 
blowing from across the Atlantic, and telling of the 
young nation that had so lately broken the chains of 

The wind was only a light breeze as yet, but it 
whispered of freedom and the downfall of tyranny, it 
recalled to Camille the memory of the spacious days 
of antiquity, it was the precursor of the storm, 
heralding that great hurricane which was so soon to 
sweep over France, overturning all things, both old 
and new, which opposed its course. 


IT was at the beginning of the year 1784 that 
Camille finally left the College Louis-le-Grand 
and returned to Guise for a time, to study there 
for the Paris Bar. He was now twenty-four 
years old, at about the age, in fact, when modern 
Englishmen leave the University. 

Like his comrade Robespierre, Camille probably 
received a handsome gratuity when he left the 
College. This the administrators were in the habit of 
bestowing upon impecunious students who had 
particularly distinguished themselves. 

His teachers prophesied a brilliant career for the 
young man, and doubtless he thoroughly agreed with 
them. Self-depreciation was never one of Camille's 
faults, and unquestionably at this time he had an 
extremely good opinion of his own talents and 

He returned then to Guise, to his father's house, 
under the impression that he was certainly a person to 
be reckoned with, and expecting to be received with 
a certain amount of awe and consideration. It was 
not long before he made a discovery which has fallen 
to the lot of many another before and since, that 
discovery to which he afterwards bitterly referred in a 
letter to his father, when he said : " I know that no- 
body is a prophet in his own country." 

The humdrum, conservative Guisards were by no 
means prepared to take Camille at his own somewhat 
high valuation. More than that, he both shocked and 
displeased them, and probably fully intended to do so. 



We may feel quite sure that he did not keep his dis- 
quieting opinions to himself ; it was not in his nature 
to do this, then or afterwards. 

The town of Guise in 1784 was old-world and old- 
fashioned in the extreme. Even as late as the year 
1871, it struck M. Claretie as a " city of the past, 
of strange, calm, sleepy aspect." Narrow streets of 
sedate houses, the dwellings of prosperous, hard- 
working citizens were dominated by the great, fortified 
citadel, which towered, an emblem of decaying feudal 
power, on a steep ascent above the town. 

Certainly Guise was not the place to encourage 
new ideas ; the old ones were quite good enough for 
these staid, well-to-do people, occupied with their 
own private business and pleasure. 

Later it was to be otherwise. The changes in which 
Camille was to be so actively concerned made them- 
selves felt even in the quiet backwater of his native 
town. There came a day when Guise, in that Revolu- 
tionary craze for giving new names to old things, was 
to re-christen itself Reunion-sur-Oise. One cannot 
imagine that the ultra-modern fashion became the old 
town well. 

But all this was in the hidden future. In 
the meantime, rumours and hints have come down 
to us which prove that Camille was considered 
to be a very firebrand by the honest townsfolk of 
Guise. They thought him a dangerous revolution- 
ary, one whom quiet folk might well be very shy 
of asking to their homes, who could not be trusted 
not to lead their sons astray, or make love to their 

It is very likely that their fears were well-founded ; 
in both these respects Camille had undoubtedly great 
capabilities, from their point of view. It was rather 
as though an undergraduate were to return to his 
home in a sleepy English country town loudly voicing 
his opinions as a red-hot Socialist and flaunting scarlet 


neckties and Fabian pamphlets in the faces of his 
quiet law-abiding friends and relations. 

Even while quite a small boy, during his first holi- 
days from College, Camille had succeeded in scandal- 
ising the good townsfolk of Guise. It is said that one 
day he was arguing so loudly with his brothers and 
sisters, and declaiming so vehemently against tyranny, 
that the Prince de Conde, who was the owner of much 
property in the neighbourhood and who had come to 
see M. Desmoulins on business, took the small orator 
by the ear and pushed him out into the street. 

A story is told of Camille's behaviour in later years 
at a respectable provincial dinner-party which gives 
a fair idea of the young man's attitude towards his 
neighbours at this time. 

M. Jules Claretie, Camille's painstaking biographer, 
believes this anecdote to be much exaggerated in the 
version given by M. Edouard Fleury, but it probably 
rests on more than a slight foundation of truth, 
and it is, moreover, quite consistent with Camille's 
character as we know him. 

He was staying at the house of his relation, Madame 
Godart, who lived at the village of Wiege, near Guise. 
A few local celebrities had been invited to meet the 
young man, whose talents were apparently admired, 
although distrusted. 

After dinner, one of those present proceeded to make 
fun of Camille's well-known and loudly-expressed 
opinions ; it seems that the young people of Guise 
looked upon it as a fine joke to endeavour to provoke 
the hot-headed collegian into one of his fits of anger. 
This time the plan succeeded only too well. To the 
day of his death, Camille could not bear to be laughed 
at, and he was provoked past bearing by his com- 
panions' gibes at his Republican views. 

It is said that at last he lost his temper completely, 
flung his napkin at the head of his opponent, and sprang 
upon the table, amidst the ruins of the glass and china. 


He proceeded to harangue the guests from this im- 
provised tribune, arousing the laughter of some, and 
the undisguised anger of others. 

Stammering, with his words falHng over each other 
in his wild excitement, Camille poured forth his ideas, 
talking of an ideal Republic, of Liberty, Equality and 
Fraternity, all of which things sounded to his amazed 
hearers like so many empty phrases, a mere wind 
of words. 

Yet, after all, it was only a kind of burlesque re- 
hearsal of that great scene five years later, in the 
gardens of the Palais Royal. 

One can well imagine, however, the scandal which 
such proceedings as these must have caused in quiet, 
law-abiding Guise. One can picture the townsfolk 
shaking their worthy heads over the doings of this 
scapegrace of a Camille, repeating the story of his 
latest prank, exaggerated no doubt, but none the less 
thrilling for that, prophesying disgrace to the good 
name of Desmoulins. 

It is to this period of his life that Camille's first 
love aftair — of a kind — would seem to belong. He had 
a certain affection for a little cousin of his, Flore Godart, 
but she was only a child, some nine years younger than 
himself. Camille accordingly calmly announced his 
intention of waiting until the girl was old enough 
to marry. 

But the Godart family opposed the whole idea of 
this match very strongly on the grounds of " Camille's 
political opinions and the dangers to the durability and 
happiness of this union which were to be anticipated." 

Rose Flore Amelie Godart was not to be the 
wife of Camille Desmoulins. Only a short time 
afterwards he met the one woman who was really 
to win his heart, and from that day it is to be 
feared that poor Flore had no real existence as far as 
Camille was concerned. In 1792 she was married to 
M. Tarrieux de Taillan. 


Nevertheless, years later, we catch a faint echo o£ 
the old dead-and-gone love affair. Lucile, Camille's 
wife, has heard some rumour of the business, and she is 
delightfully and quite unreasonably jealous. Here is 
what Camille himself writes to his father on July 9th, 

1793 '— 

" You complain that I do not write to you. . . . Lucile is 
so frightened that I shall be seized with a desire to embrace 
you that she would be alarmed if she saw me writing ; so I am 
taking advantage of the office provided by the Committee of 
War, of which I have been made Secretary, to write to you 
freely without her seeing over my shoulder that I am writing 
to Guise, I imagine that the cause of her anxiety is the 
recollection of some cousin who has been mentioned to her." 

In the meanwhile, the time which Camille spent at 
his birthplace was not wasted. He was industriously 
studying law, and he took his bachelor's degree in the 
September of 1784. There is no doubt that these 
legal studies were an advantage to him in his future 
career. They gave him that reasoning faculty, that 
power of setting forth a case which he undoubtedly 
possessed, and without which his brilliancy and wit 
would have lacked that ballast which made his argu- 
ments carry conviction to his readers. 

Camille seems to have passed his examinations 
creditably ; he became a licentiate in the spring of 
1785, and was sworn later in the same year as an 
advocate to the Parliament of Paris. 

Having attained to this position, he was now, of 
course, obliged to take up his residence permanently 
in the capital, and we have no reason to suppose that 
he felt any particular regret at leaving Guise. 

He had been keenly disappointed by his reception 
in his birthplace. Even after he became a successful 
man, Camille never quite lost a certain feeling of 
soreness where the Guisards were concerned. 

We read this plainly in his letters to his father. 
Although he protests that he takes no further interest 


in Guise, that he wishes to cut himself off from the 
provincial narrowness of his native town, one can see 
plainly beneath the surface of his v/ords that he is 
eager to prove to his unappreciative fellow-townsmen 
that their estimate of him was not the true one. 
One of the sharpest spurs to his ambition was the 
desire to make a great name in order that Guise might 
be humbled and be forced to allow that Camille 
Desmoulins was a son of whom she might well be 

With this in his mind it must have been very galling 
to Camille when the discovery was borne home to him 
that he was unfitted by nature for the career to which 
he had been destined from his childhood. 

Although he was now vv^hat we should call a barrister 
at the Paris Bar, his briefs were few and unprofitable. 
Camille was from the first doomed to failure as a 
pleader. He had no oratorical gifts, and although 
occasionally he could overcome his hesitation and 
express himself clearly and well, it was only when he 
was carried quite outside himself, under very ex- 
ceptional circumstances, that he could forget his 

It is curious that one who as a writer was extra- 
ordinarily fluent, expressing himself readily and 
without hesitation, should have been practically 
incapable of an extemporary speech. In later years 
he wrote down beforehand all the addresses which he 
made in the Convention or at the Jacobin Club, and 
these orations of his were, moreover, composed in an 
entirely different style from that which he used in 
his journalistic or literary work. They are stilted, 
academic, wholly without spontaneity. 

Camilla's voice, when he attempted to speak in 
public, was harsh and unmusical ; a certain physical 
weakness in the chest and throat would be sufficient 
to account for this, and he later often referred to this 
delicacy as an excuse for not speaking more often 


in the Convention. Besides, he stammered sHghtly, 
although this did not proceed from any malformation 
or actual impediment of speech. 

It was rather that kind of hesitation which is so 
often to be observed in nervous or excitable people ; 
it would really seem to arise from the fact that their 
thoughts spring up too rapidly to be put into coherent 

Camille's stammer took the form, as many contempo- 
rary writers tell us, of a deprecatory " hon-hon ! " 
before beginning to speak, a trick which afterwards 
earned for him his wife's affectionate nickname of 
" Monsieur Hon." 

Camille soon found that he could not hope to make a 
living at the Bar, although we learn that MM. Per dry, 
de Denisard, Perrin and Forget gave him a few cases. 
He was forced to earn a little money by executing 
law-copying for those others of his profession who 
were more fortunate than himself, and by drawing 
up petitions for the procurators at threepence- 
halfpenny each. One can guess how galling this 
drudgery must have been to a man of his tempera- 

Very few and scanty are the facts which can be 
discovered respecting Camille's life in Paris, during 
the period between 1784 and 1789. Nobody thought 
of recording his doings at that time ; he was of little 
or no interest to anyone except himself. 

Moreover, when he had become a famous man, he 
preferred to be entirely silent on the subject of these 
years. They were no source of pride to him, and he 
even tried to cover and hide them by stating, quite 
falsely, in 1790, that he had been residing in the Rue 
de Theatre Frangais for the " last six years." 

As a matter of fact, we do not really know with any 
exactness where he lived during those early days in 
Paris. It is true that he says himself, in a letter to 
his father, that his lodgings were- in the Hotel de 


Pologne, but, as M. Lenotre tells us, at that time 
there were no less than three Hotels de Pologne in 
Paris. However, from other indications it would seem 
that Camille lived in that one which was situated 
in the Rue Saint-Andre-des-Arcs. 

It is possible to deduct from his letters, and still 
more from their discontinuance at certain periods, 
that Camille did not remain in the capital during the 
whole of the time between 1784 and 1789. Probably, 
when life became unbearably hard and money im- 
possibly scanty, he returned to Guise for a time, 
doubtless to be comforted by his mother and reproved 
by his father, both alike for his good. 

It seems plain that it was not until after the opening 
of the States-General that Camille absolutely and 
decidedly settled in Paris, with the avowed intention, 
as he says, of " abandoning Guise definitely." 

Egotistical as Camille was, and by no means in- 
clined to self-depreciation by nature, he must have 
sometimes lost faith in that self of his during those 
weary years. He must have suffered under a sense 
of failure, as he wandered through the streets, watch- 
ing the men around him, independent or with others 
dependent upon them, whilst he could scarcely keep 
his own body and soul together. 

Sometimes he would forget his miserable life for a 
time whilst he sat drinking and arguing on the affairs 
of France and the universe in the famous Cafe 
Procope (now the Cafe Voltaire), where his portrait 
is still preserved. 

Sometimes he would spend happy, innocent days 
with the Duplessis family, to whom he had been 
introduced as a boy by his college friend Stanislas 
Freron. M. Duplessis was kind and good-natured, 
Madame, his wife, was still young and pretty, and 
they had two charming little daughters, mere children 
as yet, named Annette and Lucile. Occasionally 
Camille would spend Sunday with them at their 


pretty country house of Bourg-la-Reine, where they 
would picnic in the fields amongst the long grass and 
play childish games to amuse the little girls. Late in 
the sweet summer evenings they would return to Paris 
in a rough country cart, pleasantly sleepy after their 
day in the open air. 

Such occasions as these were good for Camille. 
We can be sure that he enjoyed them, in spite of his 
disappointed hopes and his embittered poverty- 
stricken life. Until the day of his death Camille 
remained a very boy, mercifully interested and 
pleased by small and homely things. 

And it was gradually, during these days and after- 
wards during mornings spent with Madame Duplessis 
and her daughters in the gardens of the Luxembourg, 
that Camille's feelings towards little Lucile almost 
imperceptibly changed. At first it had only been an 
elder-brotherly liking for a child ten years his junior. 
There is a great gulf between a young man of twenty- 
two and a child of twelve. 

But the child was growing into a charming girl, and 
Camille's love increased and altered with her growth, 
hopeless and more than hopeless as his affection 
appeared at this time. 

Doubtless he had other friends, although we do not 
know who they were. Maximilian Robespierre was at 
Arras, building up a career for himself in his native 
town, where he did not, like Camille, suffer from the 
consciousness of being misunderstood by his fellow- 
townsfolk. The people of Arras were proud of 
Robespierre ; later they were to give him his great 
opportunity by sending him to Paris as their deputy 
to the States-General. 

There was another man, like himself an advocate 
in Paris, whom Camille certainly knew, although at 
this time it does not appear that they were in any way 
intimate friends. This was Georges-Jacques Danton, 
whose life was in later years to be so closely bound 


up with that of his younger colleague. Danton was 
already a prosperous lawyer, in a very different 
position from Camille. It is not until many years later 
that the young man mentions him in a letter to his 
father, dated April, 1792, as " a college comrade, who 
is in the opposite party to myself and who esteems me 
sufficiently not to extend to my person the hatred 
which he holds for my opinions." 

If one were to judge Camille only by the writings 
of his enemies, it would be necessary to believe that 
in his private life he was a monster of depravity ; 
this, however, may be emphatically denied. 

On the other hand, some of his friends, flying to 
the other extreme, would have us to understand that he 
was a paragon of virtue ; this assertion also cannot be 
accepted as a fact. 

The real truth would seem to be that Camille was 
morally neither much better nor much worse than 
most of the young men of his age and class — until 
he became engaged to Lucile Duplessis. 

After his marriage it is impossible to prove, it is 
equally impossible to believe, that he was ever, in word 
or act, unfaithful to his wife. To quote from one of 
his own writings : " My marriage is so blissful, my 
domestic happiness is so great that I feared I was 
receiving my reward on earth and I lost my faith in 

A man who could write these words as Camille did, 
honestly and without affectation, can have had no 
temptation to seek for happiness elsewhere. 

Before his marriage, before he had won for his own 
the girl whom he had so long and truly loved, there 
was a side of Camille's life which he made little or no 
attempt to conceal. A man who wrote that he longed 
for a religion " gay, the friend of delights, of women, 
of the population and of liberty ; a religion where 
the dance, the spectacles and the festivals are a part 
of the cult, as was that of the Greeks and Romans," — 


such a man was not likely to be an ascetic in his own 
private life. 

It can never be sufficiently recognised that in 
judging the men of this time it is necessary to bear in 
mind that the standard of morality was very low in 
France, even lower than in the England of that day. 
A young man living alone in Paris, especially a young 
man with such a temperament as Camille's, who led 
even what we should think a fairly decent life, was a 
being rather out of the common. 

Under these circumstances, to labour to find 
excuses is a profitless employment. A nature like 
Camille's was not likely to set up a stricter rule of 
conduct than his compeers, and if one were to en- 
deavour to prove that he did so, at the expense of 
truth, the portrait of the man thus presented would 
be absolutely valueless. 

Nevertheless, in spite of poverty and of unremunera- 
tive and uncongenial drudgery, in spite of endless 
disappointments and apparently fruitless hopes, these 
years of Camille's life were not wasted. 

He was passing through a period of apprenticeship, 
as it were, a time of probation before entering on his 
real career of journalism. 

It is certain that he must have written much during 
these years. There is nothing amateurish in the 
literary style of the " France Libre," his first important 
printed work. Not only constant practice in writing, 
but deep and thorough reading went to the making of 
that really extraordinary pamphlet. 

Probably, together with a large amount of jnore or 
less creditable prose, Camille wrote also a vast quantity 
of more or less bad verses. Most of these poems have 
dissolved into well-deserved obscurity, but some 
few have been preserved. M. Claretie, in an appendix 
to his biography, gives as a specimen some couplets 
written in honour of a young English lady. One 
verse will probably convince most people that Camille's 


claims to the title of poet were not well-founded. 
" To Miss L . . ., a young English Lady." 

" Pardon, si, sur les traces, 
On me voit chaque soir ; 
Mais pour suivre les graces 
Est-il besoin d'espoir ? 
Sans pouvoir m'en defendre 
Mes jours vont s'ecouler, 
Le matin a I'attendre, 
Le soir a I'admirer." 

At this time, as we have said, although Camille's 
love for Lucile Duplessis grew with each meeting, his 
suit appeared too hopeless to be even hinted at to the 
girl's parents. M. Duplessis would simply have 
laughed at him ; Madame Duplessis might have been 
kinder, but she most certainly would not have con- 
sented to think of the young man as her daughter's 
lover, desperately poor and desperately unsuccessful 
as he still was. 

For M. Duplessis, although only the son of a village 
blacksmith, had risen to the creditable position of 
First Clerk in the Office of the General Control of 
Finance. It was not likely that such a prosperous and 
well-considered citizen would seriously consider poor 
Camille's claims. 

As to Lucile's own feelings, it is somewhat hard to 
fathom them ; indeed, at this time she did not know 
her own heart. She was scarcely more than a child, 
and, like many young girls, inclined to be morbid. 
Nevertheless, she was no fool. She had opinions and 
views of her own. Some of her notebooks and diaries 
have been preserved, and they show that she was 
widely read for those days and also accustomed to 
think for herself. 

Sitting up in bed, whilst her family slept, Lucile 
scribbled down, half furtively, her thoughts and dreams 
in these little exercise books. To be sure, her ideas 


are mainly those of her idol, Rousseau, but there is a 
strain of originality as well. It is when she is most 
coloured by her master that one likes her least. 

In common with other girls, before and since, she 
thinks that she will never marry, she doubts her 
capacity for love. She is a stone, she says, cold as ice, — 
at the advanced age of sixteen ! She imagines that she 
hates men, that she is a being set apart. 

It is not until 1789 that we begin to see the dawn of a 
new feeling, and even then it is only an idea which 
she loves. It is impossible to say when the idea 
materialised into the shape of shabby, fascinating 
Camille Desmoulins. 

Nevertheless, Lucile is learning that she does not 
hate one particular man. Later, she will know that 
she loves him well enough to live for him — well enough 
to die for him. 

It is a quaint, pathetic little manuscript, that early 
diary of Lucile's ; a manuscript to bring a smile to 
the lips and tears to the eyes. 

So the pretty, wilful girl passed her days and nights 
in dreams and self-analysis, while the real romance of 
her life was waiting for her, close at hand, in the 
person of the impecunious young lawyer, who lived 
in such poor apartments in the Hotel Pologne. 

Camille cordially hated his dwelling-place, but it had 
at least this one great advantage ; it was quite near 
to the house of M. Duplessis. From his garret window 
the young man could catch an occasional glimpse of the 
girl he loved, the girl who at that time must have 
seemed to him almost as inaccessible, as far as he was 
concerned, as one of those angels to which then and 
afterwards he so often compared her. 

At this period of his life, when he was dejected and 
shabby, people, no doubt, passed Camille by as an 
ugly, uninteresting young man. The impression 
which he made upon outsiders was always immensely 
dependent upon his mood at the moment, but, apart 


from this, he was probably now in appearance very- 
much as he is described a few years later. 

The portraits of Camille are contradictory ; they 
differ so much from one another that we may obtain 
the impression either of an extremely ugly, or of a 
decidedly handsome man. Neither is written testi- 
mony much more in agreement. 

He remarked himself in a letter to Arthur Dillon : 
" I am not a handsome fellow, it must be allowed," 
and, if the essayist Sainte-Beuve's father is to be 
believed : " Desmoulins had a disagreeable exterior." 

One who was decidedly inimical to Camille, the 
writer of the " Souvenirs de la Terreur," says : — 

" He had a bilious complexion like Robespierre's, a hard and 
sinister eye, more like that of an osprey than that of an eagle. 
I saw him often, and he never seemed to me to be better- 
looking than at first. I know that there were some who tried 
to make him out a handsome fellow, but either they were 
flatterers, or they had never seen him." 

Not a pleasing portrait this, — but it comes from an 

It would appear that Camille, while possessing little 
beauty of feature, could yet, on occasion, seem 
exceedingly attractive. Possibly the truest idea 
to which we can attain may be obtained from the few 
words which are to be found in an anonymous 
pamphlet, relating to the Sainte-Amaranthe family. 
The author was a woman, Madame A. R., and she 
says : " He was ugly, but with that intellectual 
ugliness which pleases. ... It was a humorous and 
pleasing ugliness." 

This description certainly agrees far the best 
with that most attractive of Camille's portraits, 
painted by Rouillard, which is now to be seen at 
Versailles. These few words bring him before us 
irresistibly ; they harmonise with what we learn of 
him from his writings and letters ; it might almost be 


said that they sum up the man himself in a deeper 
and wider sense than that of mere outward appear- 

To pass from general impressions to details, Camille 
was very dark and sallow in complexion. His hair was 
black, and, although in his extreme youth he wore 
it dressed and powdered, in later years he suffered it, 
in accordance with the Republican fashion, to grow 
long and to fall over his shoulders, loose and un- 
powdered. His eyes were always his best and most 
striking feature ; they were very dark, and extra- 
ordinarily bright and expressive. His mouth was 
large and mobile, and his forehead noticeably fine. 
For the rest, he was slightly built and not tall, but 
active and singularly boyish in his movements and 

Such was Camille when his long period of probation 
was drawing near to its close. Those days of prepara- 
tion, of weary, unremunerative toil, were at last to 
bear fruit. 

France and the whole world was on the verge of an 
upheaval, in which Camille's fortune and Camille's 
life were but as drops in the ocean. Yet that huge 
cataclysm was to give the obscure young man his 
opportunity, to throw him to the surface of events 
as it were. In a day, in an hour, in a moment, Camille 
Desmoulins was to be transformed from a struggling, 
unknown lawyer into the idol of Paris. The mere 
nobody, who was not considered worthy either of 
praise or blame, was to become someone with immense 
opportunities for good or evil, using those oppor- 
tunities both for good and evil. The transformation 
was sudden and dramatic ; there have been few such 
scenes in the whole course of history. 

This is not the place to reconsider at length, for the 
thousandth time, what causes, gradual or immediate, 
led to the French Revolution. The smouldering 
discontent, the class hatred, the sense of injustice 


which had been growing beneath the surface of 
things for centuries had at last reached a point when 
it could be suppressed no longer. Many causes had 
contributed to bring matters to a climax, many 
influences, both open and secret, had been at work 
during the preceding generation. 

The part which Voltaire, Rousseau and the En- 
cyclopaedists played in the inception of the Revolution 
has always been recognised, but the development of 
their principles was almost necessarily confined to the 
intellectual classes. Therefore it is essential to look 
deeper if we would hope to find by what power the 
masses of the proletariat were stirred in France. 

A recent writer. Miss Una Birch, in her most 
instructive essay on " Secret Societies and the French 
Revolution," gives a lucid and reasonable explanation 
of this otherwise almost inexplicable phenomenon. 
She traces the undoubted disaffection of the lowest 
classes in the kingdom to the effects of the propaganda 
work of the Masonic societies and especially of that 
great and mysterious association which is generally 
known as the " Order of the Perfectibilists " and of 
which the Illuminate, Weishaupt, was the moving 

The aim of this society was, literally speaking, the 
establishment of Rousseau's Utopian theories in a 
practical form, and its accredited agents worked 
exclusively through the existing Masonic lodges in 
France, which in time were all infected with the 
Perfectibilist doctrines. 

One of the most famous Parisian lodges was that 
of the " Neuf Soeurs," to which Camille Desmoulins 
was associated. The decoration which he wore at the 
Masonic ceremonies is still preserved, a little triangular 
badge which bears the image of a pelican tearing its 
breast. Many of Camille's brother Masons in this 
lodge afterwards took prominent parts in the Revolu- 
tion ; one need only mention such names as those of 


Brissot, La Rochefoucauld, Fauchet, Romme, Danton 
and Petion. 

It seems certain that an enormous amount of 
preparatory work was done underground, as it were, 
by the Masonic societies during the years which 
immediately preceded the Revolution. In this work 
it is only fair to presume that Camille played his part, 
although what exactly that part was we have no means 
of knowing. 

From their very nature the Secret Societies acted in 
secret, but their influence in shaping events has 
certainly not been duly estimated by historians. We 
have no space here to consider the subject further, 
but fuller information may be found in Miss Birch's 
most interesting book. 

For the French Revolution was no mere inconse- 
quent outbreak, inevitable and foreordained as an 
upheaval of nature. It was a carefully engineered 
movement, at least so far as its initial stages were 
concerned, although later the torrent broke its bounds 
and overwhelmed those who had at first directed its 

The time was coming when the strength of the strong- 
est went for nothing in the conflict with the mighty 
powers let loose in France. One by one, men were to 
arise and, in their turn, strive to govern the storm — 
Mirabeau, Danton and Robespierre, with a mighty 
host who bore lesser names. One by one they were to 
sink, powerless and vanquished, overwhelmed by that 
monster which they themselves had helped to arouse. 

It was small wonder that, where these men failed, 
Camille could not hope to hold his own for long. 
He was like a feather blown here and there by the 
varying breeze — no, his own comparison is the 
truer. He was the weathercock, which showed the 
way of the wind. 


IT was in January of the year 1789 that Louis 
XVI, King of France and Navarre, yielded to 
the importunities of his people and convoked 
the States-General, that States-General which, 
eighteen years before, the " Dictionnaire Universelle 
de la France " had pronounced obsolete. 

The great and unbounded joy with which the down- 
trodden peasantry of the kingdom heard the news of 
this convocation was, paradoxically enough, one of 
the causes of the excesses which followed. The people 
hoped too much ; they hoped for more than any 
power on earth could give them, above all the well- 
meaning, ineffective man who was their king. 

This being so, their disappointment was the keener 
when the bright hope faded, when reforms seemed as 
far away as ever, when, where they had looked for 
peace, they were met with the sword. 

But all this was as yet hidden in the future. In the 
meantime the spring of this year, afterwards to be 
known as the first year of Liberty, saw the first assem- 
blies called together in Paris and the provinces for 
the election of deputies. 

The mass of the people heard, with almost incredu- 
lous joy, that, at last, they would be able to voice their 
wrongs, that, at last, the King, their true father, as 
they still called him, was to hear and consider their 
complaints. And so, in every corner of France, the 
" cahiers " or statements were drawn up, those 
pathetic documents, written as it were with the very 
life-blood of the people, yet with hope vivifying them 



all, the sure and certain hope that the King had only 
to hear in order to understand, to understand and to 
make all things new. 

They are unspeakably sad reading, these statements 
of the sufferings and wrongs of a nation, often ill- 
written and ill-spelt, and plainly drawn up by unedu- 
cated, illiterate men. 

For it was not only in theory that the lowest classes 
of the French people nominated and instructed their 
deputies. The States-General of 1789 was elected 
on a system of practically universal suffrage, even 
women, in some instances, being amongst the electors. 

In common with almost the whole of France, 
Camille Desmoulins looked upon this convocation of 
the Three Estates of the Kingdom as the beginning of 
a new era, the dawn of a better day, to use the phrase- 
ology of the time. For the moment, all his private 
cares were laid aside, and, eager and alert, he waited 
for the work of regeneration to begin. 

Not that he was altogether content to stand aside 

, and watch others effect this great work. Camille, 

in his youthful ardour, felt capable of representing 

the people of his province in the Assembly most 

worthily — if they would only elect him. 

Unfortunately, his townsfolk thought otherwise ; 
perhaps their opinion is not altogether surprising. 
Notwithstanding all his fine ambitions, the young man 
had made no mark in Paris, and the Guisards could 
scarcely be expected to have much faith in his capa- 

It was now that Camille was to regret bitterly that 
he had not practised his profession permanently in 
his native town, like his school comrade Maximilian. 
Had he been content to remain peacefully at Guise, 
he might by now have been someone of importance, 
and worthy of consideration. 

For Robespierre, his boyish contemporary, very 
little his senior, was chosen as one of the representa- 


tives for Arras, his birthplace, where he had earned 
quite a reputation for integrity, justice and rectitude 
— a reputation which, in the future, he was to remake 
for himself in Paris. 

Camille did not fail in his ambitions for want of 
trying- He hastened back to Guise before the first 
electoral meetings took place, and it is evident that 
he canvassed for himself most diligently. He managed 
to secure the support of three hundred electors of 
Vermandois, and he Vv^as one of those sent from Guise 
to Laon as a deputy to the preliminary assemblies. 
He advanced no further than this ; indeed, he can 
scarcely have expected to be himself elected to the 

It was otherwise where his father was concerned. 
M. Desmoulins, senior, might have been sent to Paris 
as one of the representatives of his province if he had 
chosen to say the word. He was a man of importance 
in the district, and was, moreover, universally liked 
and respected. M. Desmoulins, however, was not an 
ambitious man ; his son, indeed, considered him 
culpably lacking in enterprise and initiative. He was 
also disinclined to accept the position on the score of 
ill-health, and, for one reason and another, much to 
Camille's chagrin and disappointment, he was not 
amongst the deputies who were finally elected. The 
young man could only console himself with the 
reflection that the representative nominated by Guise 
was his cousin and former benefactor, de Viefville des 

At the end of 1788 or the beginning of 1789, before 
the elections had really commenced, it would appear 
that Camille had produced his first pamphlet. The 
" Moniteur," in giving a list of publications which 
appeared at this time, mentions " La Philosophic au 
Peuple Frangais " par M. Desmoulins. As far as is 
known, there is not a copy of this essay extant, but 
the writer in the " Moniteur " states that the author 


develops the principles of a plan for a Constitution. 
It would seem that the pamphlet was only an earlier 
form of " La France Libre." 

The work does not, in any case, appear to have 
attracted particular attention. Camille's name was 
unknown and carried no authority, and, moreover, an 
overwhelming mass of political writings of more or 
less interest was published at this time. This was 
principally on account of a decree issued on July 5 th, 

1788, in which the King invited information and 
memorials on the " present decree " to be sent by 
" all the learned and instructed persons of his 

At about the same time Camille also wrote an ode 
upon the " Opening of the States-General," but 
neither does this appear to have brought him 
any special fame. It is exceedingly bad poetry, 
although its sentiments are irreproachable. The 
chief interest of the effusion lies in the fact that 
it is distinctly monarchial in tone. King Louis is 
compared to the greatest emperors of Rome, and 
called upon, in high-flown language, to regenerate 
his country. 

After manifold delays and postponements the 
elections were finally completed, and on May 5th, 

1789, the States-General was formally opened at 
Versailles with great pomp and ceremony. 

Many writers have described this day and the 
mingled feelings which the proceedings aroused both 
in themselves and in the mass of the people. For our 
present purpose, since it is Camille's point of view 
which we are considering, we cannot do better than 
give the account in his own words, used in writing to 
his father. 

It is now that the young man's letters become really 
valuable. They describe briefly all that happened at 
Paris and Versailles within Camille's ken, in a style 
which is, in its way, quite inimitable. 


Camille had apparently returned to the capital 
especially to see this ceremony, and he writes to his 
father enthusiastically on the following day : — 

" Yesterday was one of the brightest days of my life. One 
must needs have been a very bad citizen not to take part in the 
festivity of that sacred day. I believe that if I had only come 
from Guise to Paris to see this procession of the three orders 
and the opening of our States-General, I should not regret this 
pilgrimage. I only had one cause for discontent, and that lay 
in not seeing you amongst our deputies. One of my comrades 
has been more fortunate than I, this is Robespierre, deputy for 
Arras. He had the sense to plead in his own province. . . . 
One noticed yesterday the duke d'Orleans in his rank as deputy 
to the bailliage of Crespy, and Count Mirabeau with the dress 
of the Third Estate and a sword. . . . The costume of the 
nobility, exactly the same as that of the dukes and peers, was 
magnificent. . . . How proudly our deputies carried them- 
selves ! they had cafut intra nubes. . . . The abbe de Bour- 
ville, one of my friends, took me to dine with his uncle, 
Chevalier M , . ., Major-General. It was there that I noticed 
how the bulk of the nobility were irritated against M. Necker. 

" They cried by thousands and thousands : ' Long live the 
King ! Long live the Third Estate ! ' There were some cheers 
for the duke d'Orleans, none for the cloth of gold, nor for the 
cassocks. The face of the King was alight with joy. It is four 
years since he heard the cry : ' Long live the King ! ' . . . 

" I wrote yesterday to Mirabeau to try, if possible, to be put 
on the staff of the famous gazette which will describe all that 
takes place at the States-General. Thousands are subscribing 
to it here, and it will bring the author 100,000 crowns, they 
say. Shall I subscribe for you ? " 

It is easy to imagine Camille, dressed in all his 
best, hastening along the road to Versailles on that 
brilliant spring morning. 

The royal town was ablaze with flags and decora- 
tions glittering in the May sunlight. It seemed a day 
of festival for rich and poor alike. 

We can picture the young man, his vivid, ugly face 
alight with enthusiasm, standing wedged amidst the 


close-packed crowd, cheering the sombrely dressed 
deputies of the Third Estate as they passed, cheering 
the King, too, heartily enough, and the King's cousin, 
the future " Equality " Orleans, but silent when the 
Queen passed, beautiful and proud as ever, unhappy 
both for public and private reasons, yet hiding her 
sorrow under a mask of cold indifference. 

In the letters which Camille wrote to his father 
during the month of June it is easy to see what a change 
had come over the young man's life. The days of 
weary waiting and preparation were over, all was 
stir and excitement around him ; Paris was in a state 
of effervescence, and in such an atmosphere Camille 
was in his element. 

True, Chateaubriand describes him at this time as 
" sallow, shabby and needy," and we know for a 
certainty that he was as much in need of money as 
ever, but he was beginning to feel within himself 
a measure of power. 

He was even conscious, rightly or wrongly, of being 
considered by others to be a person of importance. 
He writes on June 3rd : — 

" I received your letter upon my return from Versailles ; 
where I went to see our dear deputies. ... I dined there with 
our deputies from Dauphiny and Brittany ; they all know me 
as a patriot, and they all pay me attentions which flatter me." 

In the same letter he describes very vividly his 
manner of life at that time : — 

" I am at present occupied with a patriotic work. The 
pleasure that I experience in hearing the admirable plans of 
our zealous citizens at the club and in certain cafes leads me 

" I left this letter upon my desk, A week has passed. 
To-morrow, Sunday, I return to Versailles. I go to inflame 
others and to be myself inflamed. We are about to enter 
upon a great week. That which has passed at Versailles ought 
to give marvellous courage to our deputies. . . . The States- 
General has attracted to Paris a crowd of strangers and of 


French from all the provinces. The city is full, Versailles the 
same. . . . You have no idea of the joy which our regeneration 
gives me. Liberty must be a beautiful thing, since Cato tore 
out his entrails sooner than have a master." 

In a very few words Camille gives us here an extra- 
ordinarily clear impression of the state of Paris during 
those fervent midsummer days. 

We have only one description to match it, and that 
is to be found in the Journal of our own English 
traveller, Arthur Young. The impressions of this 
writer may well find a place here ; they supplement 
and accentuate, as it were, those of Camille. There 
were odd points of likeness in the characters of these 
two men, opposite as they were in many respects. 

" Paris," writes Young, " is at present in such a ferment 
about the States-General, now holding at Versailles, that 
conversation is absolutely absorbed by them. Not a word of 
anything else talked of. . . . The business going forward at 
present in the pamphlet shops of Paris is incredible. . . . 
Every hour produces something new. Thirteen came out 
to-day, sixteen yesterday, and ninety-two last week. . . . 
At Desein's and some other shops here one can scarcely squeeze 
from the door to the counter. . . . Nineteen-twentieths of 
these products are in favour of liberty. ... It is easy to 
conceive the spirit that must thus be raised among the people. 
But the coffee-houses in the Palais Royal present yet more 
singular and astonishing spectacles ; they are not only crowded 
within, but other expectant crowds are at the doors and 
windows, listening a gorge defloye to certain orators who from 
chairs or tables harangue each his little audience ; the eagerness 
with which they are heard and the thunder of applause they 
receive for every sentiment of more than common hardiness 
or violence against the present government cannot easily be 

Probably by this time Camille had ceased to make 
any pretence of practising his profession. He was 
occupied, as he told his father, in writing his first 
great literary work " La France Libre." 

It is only fair to Camille and his principles to say 


that he wished to publish this pamphlet then and 
there. It was not by his will that the production was 
postponed until the dawn of that day of July 14th, 
which changed the whole current of public opinion in 
France, by proving that the populace had might as 
well as right upon their side. 

However, the printer Momoro was cautious. This 
man, who was afterwards to proclaim himself the 
most ardent of democrats, the " first printer of the 
National Liberty," declined for the moment to bring 
out such an incendiary piece of work as this of 
Camille's. He preferred to wait events — and it was 
not long before events developed themselves. 

This refusal of Momoro to print his work exasperated 
Camille beyond measure. He writes to his father after 
June 20th : — 

" I have had a tremendous disagreement with my printer 
and pubhsher; if I had the cash I would buy a press, the 
monopoly of these rascals revolts me so much. It rains pam- 
phlets, each more brilliant than the last." 

Meanwhile things did not advance so rapidly at 
Versailles as had been hoped. Step by step the 
members of the Third Estate fought for their rights, 
hampered and obstructed by the deputies of the 
two aristocratic orders, who obstinately opposed the 
smallest measures of reform. 

It is not perfectly certain that Camille was at 
Versailles on that famous 20th of June, when the 
Deputies of the people were expelled from the hall 
of the Assembly on the feeble pretext that it was 
necessary to prepare it for the Royal seance. All the 
world knows how, in the pouring rain, they repaired 
to the dilapidated open tennis court, still to be seen 
in the Rue St. Frangois at Versailles, where, with 
only one exception, they unanimously took the solemn 
oath never to dissolve until France was given a Con- 


Although Camille does not, in his letters, definitely 
mention the episode of the Tennis Court oath, it is 
very possible that he was present amidst the curious 
crowd, who watched the proceedings from the covered 
galleries round the building. In any case he is full of 
enthusiasm at the firm stand taken by the popular 
deputies, and he says positively that he was at Versailles 
on Monday and Tuesday, June 22nd and 23rd. 

It would certainly appear from what he writes in a 
letter to his father on June 24th that he was present 
at the Royal sitting on the latter date. He gives a 
brief and pointed account of that historical scene : — 

" The sitting lasted thirty-five minutes. The King annulled 
all that the Third Estate had done, threw an apple of discord 
amongst the three orders, proposed fifty-three articles of a 
crafty edict, where he feigned to accord part of what the 
cahiers demanded ; he finished by saying ' No remonstrances ' 
and concluded the sitting. The nobles applauded, a great part 
of the clergy did the same. The most mournful silence in the 
Third Estate. The two orders departed, with the exception of 
thirty or forty deputies, who remained with the Third. It was 
eleven o'clock. The Third Estate remained assembled until 
three. They protested, confirmed the deliberations of the 
17th and annulled all which had been done. 

" M. de Breze came to order them to separate. 'The 
King,' said Mirabeau, ' can cause us to be killed ; tell him that 
we all wait death ; but that he need not hope that we shall 
separate until we have made the Constitution.' 

" M. de Breze came a second time ; the same response and 
they continued their deliberations. They declared by a second 
decree their persons to be sacred and inviolable, by a third 
decree they declared that they could not obey the will of the 
Prince, and ordained that the door of the Assembly should 
always be open to the nation. 

" In a word, all have shown a Roman firmness, and are re- 
solved to seal our liberties with their blood. All Paris is aflame ; 
the Palais Royal is as full as an egg ; they applaud the duke 
d'Orleans with transport. The King passes ; everyone is 
silent : M. Bailly, President of the Assembly, appears, all clap 
their hands ; they cry : ' Long live the Nation ! ' " 


It will be noticed that Mirabeau's famous answer 
to the order of the King conveyed to the Assembly 
by de Breze is, as given by Camille, at the same time 
briefer and more dignified than in the more generally 
accepted version. Moreover, he does not put into 
Mirabeau's mouth the well-known phrase, " We will 
not be expelled save at the point of the bayonet," a 
phrase which many modern historians are inclined to 
consider more or less mythical. 

In any case Camille's impromptu description of this 
event shows many of the qualities of a good journalist. 
The facts are all there, presented dramatically enough 
and without a superfluous word, and at the end of this 
brief passage the state of public opinion in Paris is 
presented to us very impressively. 

The hostility of the Court party against the re- 
bellious Third Estate grew from the day of the Royal 
sitting onwards. The King temporised, yielding as 
usual first on one side, then on the other, but his wife 
and ministers were always with him, and naturally 
they and their followers obtained the greatest con- 

Louis was induced, by the advice of the Queen and 
his brothers, to send for a large number of mercenary 
troops, and these German and Swiss soldiers were 
stationed in several camps near Versailles and in the 
Champ-de-Mars. These regiments were intended to 
intimidate Paris and the popular section of the States-^ 
General, now known as the National Assembly, and 
to cast the fear of death upon those who dared to 
resist the royal authority. As a matter of fact the 
chief effect produced by the presence of the troops 
was to irritate the citizens of Paris still further and to 
suggest to them the possibility of an armed resistance 
since arms were to be employed against them. 

The temper of the city was becoming dangerous; 
it required very little to stir the people to fury. It is a 
foretaste of the horrors which were to follow which 


Camille gives us in describing the slaughter of a pohce 
spy in the Palais Royal at the beginning of July. He 
tells us that the unfortunate wretch was stripped, 
thrown into the basin of one of the fountains in the 
garden, and forced under the water. He was stoned 
and beaten with canes, and one of his eyes was knocked 
out of its socket. Camille concludes by saying that : 
" His punishment lasted from midday until half-past 
five, and he had quite ten thousand executioners." 

Camille, it must be noticed, has no word of pity for 
this unfortunate servant of a cruel system. He speaks 
of him only as a " vile rascal." It would almost seem 
as though he were infected with the madness of the 
crowd, and considered such rough justice allowable if 
not commendable. It is the first sign in his writings 
of that dangerous theory that the mob can do no 
wrong, that, as he wrote afterwards in his journal : 
" This much calumniated people is moved by prin- 
ciples of equity ; it has wholesome notions in this 
respect and nothing angers it so much as injustice." 

Camille was to learn for himself, five years later, 
how little one can trust to the justice and equity of 
the mob. 

In his letters written at the beginning of July 
Camille speaks much of the " thirty thousand men 
around Paris " and of the " three or four little camps 
garnished with artillery," but he tells his father also 
that many of the soldiers, including numbers of the 
French guards themselves, are deserting from their 
regiments and have come to espouse the cause of the 
people in that " camp of patriots," the Palais Royal. 

It is with more triumph than apprehension that he 
writes these words at the beginning of one of his 
letters : " The conflagration increases : Jam proximus 
ardet Ucalegonj'^ 


THE morning of the 12th of July, 1789, 
dawned bright and sunny, that day which 
was to be the most momentous in all the 
life of Camille Desmoulins. 

He can have had no idea when he awoke of 
what this summer Sunday was to bring forth, of 
that extraordinary event which was to transform him 
with dramatic suddenness from a briefless lawyer to a 
personage of the first importance in Paris and in 

It is not clear whether at this time Camille was 
staying at Versailles, or whether, as is more probable, 
he only hastened there from Paris in the morning, to 
learn at first hand what had passed in the Assembly 
and at the Chateau. It was, in any case, at Versailles 
that he heard the news which fell like a thunderbolt 
upon him and upon all the members of the popular 
party. Necker, the people's minister, the idol of the 
moment in Paris, had been dismissed from ofiice, and 
was even then hurrying to his Swiss exile. 

The personality of Necker had an extraordinary 
hold upon the populace at this time. In spite of very 
various opinions of the character of the Swiss financier, 
there can be no doubt that he possessed this power 
of imposing his own self-belief upon others. The 
Parisians were soon to discover that this saint of theirs 
was only whitewashed plaster ; in the meantime, his 
very name could stir them to enthusiasm or fury, 

Camille must have returned hastily to Paris on hear- 
ing the news of Necker's dismissal. It is hard to say 



whether there was any definite plan in his mind of 
inciting the populace to rebellion. Probably his first 
idea was to make his way to the Palais Royal and 
there to tell the assembled crowd his tragic tidings. 
A dramatic situation of this kind had always the 
strongest appeal for Camille ; he had the child's love 
for imparting news, good or bad. 

A dense throng filled the gardens of the Palais Royal. 
At the least computation there were six thousand 
persons present, of all ages and classes, all irritated and 
excited by the presence of the foreign troops round the 
capital, all knowing little or nothing, and therefore 
ready to believe anything. 

The streets had been placarded overnight with 
enormous posters, inviting peaceable citizens to remain 
within doors, to feel no alarm, to gather in no crowd. 
But if these placards were intended to reassure, which 
is doubtful, we may be certain that the very fact of 
their appearance in the city would have exactly the 
opposite effect. 

It was into this crowd that Camille made his way, 
flushed and heated. The young man was almost beside 
himself with anger and excitement, and no doubt 
these feelings were plainly visible in his face. 

One can imagine those of his friends and acquaint- 
ances who were present crowding around him to hear 
the latest news from Versailles, one can almost hear 
Camille's stammering answers, nearly incoherent prob- 
ably, as he strove for words in his nervous excite- 
ment. More and more people pressed towards him, 
trying to catch his news, realising that there was some- 
thing seriously amiss. 

It was now, it would appear from his own words, 
that the definite intention came to Camille to stir 
up the crowd to rebellion. 

He himself gave in his writings two descriptions of 
this, the great day of his life. The first is to be found 
in a letter to his father dated July 1 6th, the second is 


contained in the fifth number of the " Vieux Cor- 
deKer," where Camille described the scene once 
more in detail to remind the fickle mob of this, his 
greatest service to Liberty and to France. 

These two versions agree in the main, although the 
later account is the more detailed, and the words and 
phrases have evidently been carefully thought out and 
polished. Probably one is not far wrong in thinking 
that these expressions represent what Camille after- 
wards thought that he ought to have said rather than 
the actual words which he used. His call to arms 
appears here less an impulse of the moment than a 
carefully premeditated action. 

But the first description was written whilst the 
episode and the events which arose from it still 
absorbed Camille, body and soul. The very inco- 
herence of its diction stamps it as a true relation of 
what took place. 

" My very dear father," Camille begins his letter. " Now at 
last one can write to you, the letter will arrive. Myself, I have 
posted a sentinel to-day in the post-office, and there is no more 
a secret cabinet where the letters are unsealed. How the face 
of things is changed since three days ago ! On Sunday all Paris 
was dismayed at the dismissal of M. Necker ; I had tried to 
stir up the people, yet nobody took arms. I mixed with the 
crowd ; they saw my zeal ; they surrounded me ; they pressed 
me to mount upon a table ; in a moment I am surrounded by 
six thousand persons. 

" ' Citizens ! ' I said then. ' You know that the nation has 
demanded that Necker should retain office, that a monument 
should be raised to him ; he has been dismissed ! Could they 
defy you more insolently ? After this, they will dare any- 
thing, and for this night they meditate, they prepare perhaps, 
a St. Bartholomew for the patriots.' 

" I was stifled by the rush of thoughts which flowed into my 
mind. I spoke without ordering my words. 

" ' To arms ! ' I cried. ' To arms ! Take, all of you, green 
cockades, the colour of hope ! ' 

" I recollect that I finished with these words : ' The 


infamous police are here. Ah, well, let them watch me, let 
them observe me carefully. Yes, it is I who call my brothers to 
liberty ! ' And, lifting a pistol, ' At least, they shall not take 
me alive, and I shall know how to die gloriously. Only one 
misfortune can touch me, it is that of seeing France become 

" Then I descended ; they embraced me, they stifled me 
with caresses. 

" ' My friend,' said several, ' we are going to make a guard 
for you ; we will not abandon you, we will go where you 

" I said that I did not wish to have the command, and that 
I would only be a soldier of the fatherland. I took a green 
ribbon and fastened it the first to my hat. With what rapidity 
the conflagration spread ! " 

Camille's review of the circumstances, written 
nearly five years later, somehow lacks the life of the 
former version. Yet it is not without a particular 
interest of its own. 

" It was half-past two," he writes. " I came to sound the 
people. My anger against the despots was turned to despair. 
I saw that the groups, although keenly moved and dismayed, 
were not ripe for an upheaval. Three young men appeared to 
me to be animated by more vehement courage ; they held 
each other by the hand. I saw that they had come to the Palais 
Royal with the same design as myself; some passive citizens 
followed them. 

" ' Sirs,' I said to them, ' here is the beginning of a civic 
enlistment ; it is necessary for one of us to devote himself, and, 
mounted upon a table, to harangue the people.' 

" ' Mount, then ! ' 

" I consented, I was rather lifted upon the table than 
mounted there. Scarcely was I raised than I saw myself sur- 
rounded by an immense crowd. Here is my short harangue, 
which I shall never forget. 

" ' Citizens, there is not a moment to be lost. I come from 
Versailles. M. Necker is dismissed. This recalls the tocsin of 
a St, Bartholomew to patriots ; this evening all the German 
and Swiss battalions will come from the Champ-de-Mars to 
assassinate us. There only remains to us one resource ; it is to 


take up arms and to adopt cockades by which we may know 
each other.' 

" I had tears in my eyes, and I spoke with a vigour that I 
could never again either recall or paint. My motion was 
received with infinite applause ; I continued. 

" ' What colours will you have ? ' Someone cried : 
' Choose.' 

" ' Will you have green, the colour of hope, or the blue of 
Cincinnatus, the colour of American liberty and of demo- 
cracy .? ' 

" Voices were raised : 'Green! The colour of hope ! ' 

" Then I cried : ' Friends, the signal is given. Here are the 
spies and satellites of the police who watch us. I will not fall 
living into their hands.' Then, drawing two pistols from my 
pocket, I said : ' Let all citizens imitate me ! ' " 

It was in this fashion that Camille Desmoulins 
made the one great speech of his life, and, by a strange 
paradox, he, whose elocutionary powers were ever of 
the weakest, leapt into fame by means of ^oratory. But 
indeed it must be confessed that his outburst owed 
its success mainly to the fact that it was wonderfully 
well-timed. It came precisely at the right moment. 

Thus Camille is the central figure of one of the 
most vivid and memorable scenes in the Revolution. 
We can picture him, reared above the madly excited 
crowd on his rickety platform, composed of a chair 
mounted on a table and supported by one Citizen 

For that instant, stammering, insignificant Camille 
was beside himself — nay, inspired. With face aglow 
and black eyes blazing, with his long, dishevelled hair 
flung back wildly and his hoarse, weak voice strained 
to the utmost to reach to the outskirts of the crowd, 
he flung out the words which called a nation to arms. 

For it was not only in Camille's own opinion that 
this speech made him one of the most prominent men 
in Paris. Even those who had never heard his name 
spoke of the act and its immediate effect. Here is the 
description given by Helen Maria Williams, that 


extraordinary and eccentric woman who was in France 
at the time. 

" I have heard several persons mention a young man of 
insignificant figure, who, the day before the Bastille was taken, 
got up on a chair in the Palais Royal and harangued the 
multitude, conjuring them to make a struggle for their liberty 
and asserting that now the moment was arrived. They 
listened to his eloquence with the most eager attention and, 
when he had instructed as many as could hear him at one time, 
he requested them to depart, and repeated his harangue to a 
new set of auditors." 

This account would seem to imply that Miss 
Williams believed the address to have been more or 
less premeditated, an opinion which is certainly 
supported by Camille's own latest version of the affair. 

It is the view also which Heinrich von Sybel takes 
in his great and learned history of the French Revolu- 

" Camille Desmoulins," he says, " incited the people to 
resistance from the windows [sic] of the Cafe Foy. The popu- 
lace had been so well prepared that the effect of his address 
was tremendous." 

It is interesting to compare the point of view of an 
ardent royalist with regard to this event and to 
Cam.ille himself. Here is how Bertrand de Moleville 
describes it in his " Annals " : — 

" The news [of Necker's dismissal] was not confirmed till 
between eleven and twelve o'clock by persons coming from 
Versailles to the Palais Royal, where the concourse of Patriots 
was such that it was hardly possible to take half a dozen steps 
in the garden without being stopped by a group. In the middle 
of this immense crowd, Camille Desmoulins, one of the most 
inflammatory Demoniacs of the Revolution, mounting upon 
a table, cried out with a thrilling voice : ' Citizens, Necker is 
dismissed.' " 

The remainder of the speech de Moleville gives 
practically in the same words as Camille. 


There stands a bronze statue in the garden o£ the 
Palais Royal, which represents Camille, as the sculptor, 
Boverie, imagines him to have appeared upon this, 
the greatest day of his life. The figure has a lonely 
and deserted air, for the glory of the Palais Royal is 
departed. This " Camp of the patriots," as Camille 
called it, has become a desert, with here and there a 
solitary passer-by to accentuate its emptiness. Only 
those who would fain recall the memories of the wild 
past seek for them here, as though the shadows of the 
dead might still be expected to haunt the stage where 
they played their strenuous parts. 

In Camille's own day his exploit was commemorated 
in a more humble fashion. Last summer at an old 
pottery very far from Paris, in the mountains of the 
Bernese Oberland, we discovered an earthenware 
plate, which bears the date 1789. On it, in crude 
blues and yellows, the hero of July 12th is represented, 
standing on the rickety table, with pistol and hat 
upraised. And I do not think that Camille was the 
man to despise even such homely fame as this. 

Thus Camille's first public act was performed ; 
from henceforth, as Jules Claretie says : " In him are 
incarnate now, and shall be incarnate for the future — 
the Revolution and Hope." 

When the young man descended, panting and ex- 
hausted, from his improvised tribune, he was seized 
with rough friendliness and borne in triumph round 
the gardens. The trees were stripped of their leaves 
to furnish the green cockades, and the excited crowd 
surged out into the streets, echoing Camille's cry : 
" To arms ! To arms ! " 

They happened to pass the shop of a Swiss image- 
maker, one Curtius, in whose window were displayed 
the effigies of Necker and of another popular idol, 
the duke d'Orleans. The mob broke into the shop 
forthwith, seized the busts and raised them as 
standards, swathing the image of Necker in a scarf of 


crape. A little girl watched the stormy scene in 
frightened excitement. She was Curtius' niece, 
afterwards to be known all the world over as Madame 

In this manner the procession paraded the streets, 
growing in numbers at every by-road and alley 
which flowed, as it were, into the main stream. 

Camille was doubtless borne in the van, although 
he himself does not mention the part which he played ; 
however, it is not likely that the Parisians were willing 
to relinquish readily this new idol of theirs, the man 
who had given them their rallying cry. 

For some little time the procession marched through 
the streets undisturbed. Possibly if no opposition had 
been made to them, they would have dispersed peace- 
ably, at any rate for the time. They had, at the 
moment, no particular object in view. 

But the foreign troops were thickly distributed 
throughout and around Paris. The procession was 
almost bound to come into collision with them, and 
the feeling of hostility against the Swiss and German 
mercenaries was very strong amongst the mob. What 
happened was only that which might have been 

Several regiments were hastily summoned from the 
camp in the Champ-de-Mars and opposed the crowd 
as it debouched into the Champs Elysees. The 
soldiers of the Royal Allemand retreated before 
showers of stones and other missiles, but the mob was 
driven back when the cavalry under Prince Lambesc 
charged upon the people, literally trampling them 
under the feet of the horses. 

Although several of the crowd were more or less 
seriously wounded, one man only was killed, a soldier 
who was assisting to carry the bust of Necker. 
But this was enough to rouse the people to madness. 
The first blood had been shed in the Revolution. 
For an instant the mob was driven back, intimidated. 


Lambesc must have congratulated himself upon the 
success of his measures. He had not reckoned on a 
certain amount of reorganising power which existed 
in these apparently undisciplined throngs. Moreover, 
a still more important factor had now to be reckoned 
with : the defection of the regular troops. 

A regiment of the French guards had been known 
to be disaffected, and Lambesc had tried to overawe 
them by placing them in their barracks under the 
supervision of a squadron of loyal dragoons. His 
precaution was useless ; when the mutinous regiment 
heard that fighting was going forward in the Tuileries 
Gardens, they broke through their guard, driving the 
cavalry before them, and joined the mob, ranging 
themselves between the people and the Royal troops. 

The crov/d re-formed, thus supported by the guards, 
and presented a solid front when another charge was 

The troops were driven back, without having suc- 
ceeded in dispersing the people, and retired sullenly 
into their camps, where they awaited orders which 
never came. Versailles, as usual, was unprepared for 
an emergency. 

The mob had put its strength to the test and it had 
been victorious. The undisciplined throng had driven 
back the feared and hated troops ; henceforth the 
soldiers might be hated, but they would not be feared 
in the same measure. 

There was little sleep in Paris that night. The 
people were terrified at what they had done, when 
there was time for consideration. After all, the town 
was practically invested by the King's troops ; what 
could the Parisians expect but swift and terrible 
punishment ? 

A spirit of fear and anxiety was abroad. Men might 
be seen lying with their ears to the ground, awaiting 
the first sound of the cannon. 

To add to the general alarm, bands of smugglers 


both from within and without the city seized the 
opportunity offered by the unrest and confusion to 
burn the Customs' barriers, and the sight of these 
conflagrations gave rise to the beHef that the mer- 
cenary troops had already begun to assault the 

According to Camille's account, people attacked 
and plundered the armourers' shops, to provide them- 
selves with weapons as early as this Sunday evening. 
The cafes were full until a late hour ; a plan was 
growing in men's minds, but it must be discussed, 
thought out. 

Camille, as far as we can gather, was here, there and 
everywhere. With General Danican, he seems to 
have been looked upon as one of the leaders of the 
movement, although, according to his own showing, 
he had refused to take the command. 

As he wrote himself in later years : " I had at that 
time all the daring of the Revolution." 

On Monday morning the tocsin sounded from the 
belfries of Paris ; the people found themselves with 
at least one definite object in view. They must be 
armed, by fair means or foul. It is probable that few, 
as yet, contemplated more than self-defence, but 
with an armed mob it needs only a word to incite 
them to go farther and to attack in their turn. 

That long summer day was stiflingly hot ; there was 
thunder in the air in more senses than one. 

And Paris was arming itself. The people neglected 
their daily work ; only the smithy shops were busy, 
crowded with men who brought weapons to be made 
or mended. Scythes and daggers were fixed on to 
poles, and the blacksmiths were beating out pikes, 
those terrible pikes which were to make -the Paris mob 
more formidable than an army of trained soldiers. 
Early in the morning a number of men and women 
attacked and broke into the Garde Meuble, where 
they found a great quantity of ancient and modern 


arms which they promptly distributed amongst 

Meanwhile, at the Hotel de Ville the Revolution 
was in process of organisation. The central committee 
of Parisian electors, which had been sitting there 
since July 4th, took over the government of the 

They proclaimed that a voluntary force of forty- 
eight thousand men must immediately be raised for 
the defence of the capital, each of the eighty electoral 
districts furnishing a battalion eight hundred strong. 
This force, in the formation of which the Govern- 
ment was in no way consulted, was first called the 
Parisian Militia, and it was under the command of 
M. de la Salle d'Offremont, the director of the 

Although, of course, at such short notice it was 
impossible to think of providing uniforms, a badge 
was chosen for this Militia or National Guard, a badge 
which was later to become of world-wide fame. The 
red and blue of the city and the white of the army 
were joined in one cockade to form the famous tri- 

This central committee also busied itself with the 
arming of the mob. 

It is not easy to say precisely how or by whom the 
impulse was given which led the Fauxbourgs St. 
Antoine and St. Marceau to first conceive the idea of 
taking the Bastille. It is true that in some of the 
" cahiers " the destruction of this prison was expressly 
demanded ; the desire was evidently a widespread one. 

Certainly the plan was not entirely new. In a letter 
to his father at the end of June or the beginning of 
July, Camille says that at the time when the French 
guards first mutinied there was a question of marching 
at once upon the Bastille or the fortress of Vincennes, 
although the scheme came to nothing for the time 


It seems that the thought was dormant in the minds 
of many. Repeated vaguely again and again, the germ 
of an idea spread from one to another, until it grew 
into a definite plan. To the inhabitants of the two 
great " slum " fauxbourgs the Bastille was the in- 
carnation of tyranny and oppression. The great, 
lowering building dominated the district. Legends 
were rife amongst the people of hundreds of prisoners 
incarcerated there, forgotten by all the world. These 
stories were false in the main, as the mob was soon to 
prove for itself, but the theory was the same. 

Here was the Bastille, a concrete emblem of tyranny. 
The people were in arms against tyrants ; let them 
overthrow the great dungeon. 

There was besides a more practical reason for the 
assault. The fortress was connected with a huge 
arsenal, containing a vast quantity of arms. It was 
weapons and ammunition which the people required ; 
therefore when the men of St. Marceau had obtained 
them from the Invalides, St. Antoine resolved that 
its necessity should be supplied by the Bastille. 

The affair was not unpremeditated. Regular plans 
for taking the fortress were suggested to the Electoral 
Committee at the Hotel de Ville. Some suggested 
huge catapults, like those used by the ancients, while 
Santerre, the Brewer, brought forward a scheme 
which was even more ingenious. He proposed to set 
fire to the Bastille by means of oil of turpentine and 
phosphorus, forced through the pumps of fire engines. 
So feasible did this plan appear to the Committee that 
the engines were actually taken to the spot, although 
it was not found possible to use them. 

Some historians assert that matters were brought 
to a climax when a courier was intercepted by the 
mob on his way from Versailles to de Launay, governor 
of the Bastille, carrying an order which enjoined 
that the fortress was to be held to the last extremity. 

It is said that this order was carried straightway 


to the Hotel de Ville, and that the Central Committee 
at once resolved to attack the Bastille, before the 
Governor could receive another despatch to the same 

Although we have no absolute proof of the fact, 
there can be little doubt that Camille was busied 
during this day in stirring up the people. Very likely 
he caught up and propagated everywhere the idea of 
taking the Bastille. He had the instincts of the 
agitator and the j ournalist in a sufficiently large measure 
to make him see the importance of giving the mob an 

Of one thing we may be quite certain ; Camille 
was not in the background during that feverish 
Monday. Popularity was very sweet to him now and 
always ; moreover, it was a new sensation to him to be 
someone of consequence, and he was not, at this or 
any other time, particularly level-headed. 

So the hot, steaming day wore on. Towards evening 
there was a heavy thunderstorm which drove the 
Parisians to take shelter for a time, but meanwhile 
another storm was brewing, which was to break in its 
full fury next day. 

The following morning dawned dull and cloudy ; 
the sun did not shine at the breaking of this day, the 
most momentous in all the stormy history of France. 
July 14th — the first day of the first year of Liberty, 
the day when the earliest blow was struck at the 
foundations of the monarchy — all this and more the 
mention of that summer morning was to mean in after 

The Fauxbourgs of St. Antoine and St. Marceau 
were astir at dawn ; men had slept but little that 
night. They were ready now for whatever the day 
might bring forth. 

Early that morning a deputation from the Hotel de 
Ville, headed by the Procureur du Roi, had led the 
insurgents to the Invalides and forced M. de Sombreuil 


to open the gates and allow the mob to provide 
themselves with weapons out of his vast store of arms. 

Camille was one of those who accompanied the 
populace to the Invalides. He tells his father that : 
" I descended myself under the dome at the risk of 
being stifled. I saw there, as it seemed to me, at least 
a hundred thousand muskets. I armed myself with a 
brand-new one, provided with a bayonet and with 
two pistols." 

It was in this way that the mob armed themselves ; 
such as were able to do so. The rest must needs wait 
for their weapons. 

Gradually the crowd gathered, always concentrating 
upon one point. Towards ten o'clock in the morning 
a huge throng was assembled round the gates of the 
Bastille, and de Launay, the Governor, tried to 
intimidate them with a volley of musketry. This 
fusillade had quite a contrary effect ; it enraged the 
insurgents, and the noise attracted a host of others to 
join them. From the towers of the Bastille could be 
seen the advance of a surging mob from all directions, a 
mob which thickened with every moment that passed. 

If the fortress had not been absolutely inadequately 
garrisoned and provisioned, it would have been 
impregnable. The eight huge towers and the walls 
ten feet thick might indeed have resisted any human 
onslaught. But de Launay had but a hundred and 
thirty-eight men to support him, of whom one half 
were veteran pensioners. There was no means of 
preventing the water supply from being cut off — and, 
moreover, he had but two sacks of flour. 

The Governor's only hope was in the succour 
which he momentarily expected from de Besenval, 
who commanded the troops in the Champ-de-Mars. 
That succour never came. 

And then the extraordinary assault took place, 
which is known to history as the taking of the Bastille. 
The event has been described again and again, yet 


historians of every shade o£ thought agree in this : 
that the thing was an apparent impossibiHty, accom- 
phshed in an incredibly short space of time. 

The first entrance of the mob into the fortress was 
effected by two half-pay soldiers, Louis Tournay and 
Aubin Bonnemere, who contrived to climb in by way 
of the Governor's house, and to lower the outer 
drawbridge. Once within, the men of the fauxbourgs 
beat back ail resistance by sheer force of numbers. 
The stand made against them was pitifully weak ; the 
small garrison fought half-heartedly, and one only of 
the great guns was fired on the people. 

De Launay was urged, by his own men, to surrender, 
but, after waiting for de Besenval's relief as long as he 
dared, he resolved to blow up the fortress himself, 
rather than yield it to the mob. As he was in the 
act of applying a match to the powder-magazine, 
some of the garrison interposed, and forced him to 
capitulate. He did so after an assurance from Elie 
and Hulin, once officers in the French Guards, now 
leaders of the mob, that : " on the honour of French 
soldiers, no injury shall be done to you." 

If the matter had rested with these two, both brave 
and honourable men, this promise would have been 
faithfully kept, but in spite of all their efforts, the mob 
massacred the unfortunate de Launay and de Lorme, 
his second in command, as they were being taken to the 
Hotel de Ville. During the actual assault ninety-eight 
of the besiegers and one only of the besieged were killed. 

With regard to Camille's part in this, the first great 
" day " of the Revolution, he says, writing to his father 
on July 1 6th, that he hastened to the scene at the first 
sound of the cannon. 

" But the Bastille was already taken in two and a half hours, 
a thing which appears miraculous. The Bastille could have 
been held six months, if anything could be held against French 
impetuosity ; the Bastille was taken by the citizens and by 
private soldiers without a chief, without one single officer ! " 


We learn, from another source, that Camille was 
one of the first to mount the ramparts of the conquered 

In an incredibly short space of time, all was over. 
The Bastille had fallen ; the victorious leaders handed 
the great keys of the fortress to the Paris Munici- 
pality — and it was now that the invincible, omnipotent 
mob sullied their victory. Not only were de Launay 
and several of his garrison cruelly murdered, but also 
de Flesselles, Provost of the Alerchants, who, men 
said, had not whole-heartedly supported the in- 

A wild night followed that wild day. The people 
of Paris were mad with success, yet haunted by the 
fear of reprisals. They ransacked the Bastille in the 
search for prisoners. Only seven were found, seven 
miserable, terrified beings, knowing nothing of what 
had passed, conscious only of a hell-like din raging 
outside their cells. They were carried in triumph 
through the streets of Paris, heroes for this one night, 
forgotten next day in the swift rush of events. 

And under this date of July 14th, when the French 
people took the first step on that road which was to 
lead them to victory and their king to the guillotine, 
that same King Louis wrote in his diary the one word : 
" Nothing." 

Camille gave to his father and gives to us a vivid 
picture of this night and the following day. 

" All the streets were lighted," he says. " They threw out 
into the road chairs, tables, casks, piles of everything, carts and 
carriages, in order to make barricades and to break the legs of 
horses. There were 70,000 men under arms this night. The 
French guard patrolled with us. I mounted guard all night 
long. . . . ^ 

"Yesterday morning [the 15 th] the alarmed King went to 
the National Assembly ; he threw himself upon the mercy of 
the Assembly and all his sins were forgiven. Our deputies 
reconducted him in triumph to the Castle. . . . Target tells 


me that It was a fine procession. In the evening the procession 
was still more beautiful ; one hundred and fifty deputies of 
the National Assembly, clergy, nobility and commons were 
mounted in the King's carriages to carry the news of the peace 
to Paris. 

" They arrived at half-past three at the Place Louis XV, 
descended from their vehicles, and went on foot to the Hotel 
<de Ville, traversing the Rue St. Honore. ... I marched, with 
sword drawn, beside Target, with whom I conversed ; he was 
full of inexpressible joy. It shone from the eyes of everyone, 
and I have never seen anything like it. It is impossible that the 
triumph of Paulus Emilius was more splendid." 

In that hour of triumphant joy, when the millen- 
nium seemed at hand, to Camille and others around 
him there came no foreknowledge of a day, not long 
distant for some of them, when they would retrace 
their steps over the self -same route, on a very different 

For on that later day, the order of the journey 
would be so far changed that, starting at the gates of 
the Conciergerie, and "traversing the Rue St. Honore," 
it would end, and not begin, at the Place of the 
Revolution, heretofore known as the Place Louis XV. 


IN one day, in one moment, Camille Desmoulins 
had become a famous man. 
On July nth he was a disregarded, shabby 
little lawyer, with journalistic tendencies, of no 
account to anybody except his few friends, and treated, 
even by them, more with contemptuous kindliness 
than with respect. 

On July 1 2th he was suddenly thrown into promi- 
nent relief against the flaming background of armed 
rebellion which he had helped to stir up. The transi- 
tion was rapid ; almost too rapid for Camille's 
equilibrium. Decidedly his head was turned, and 
it is not surprising that this should have been the case. 
It must always be intoxicating to be set up as a popular 
idol, and this is true, above all, of the heroes of that 
fickle Parisian mob, which is always ready to fly to 
extremes, whether of love or hate. 

And it was ever part of Camille's nature to love 
praise, admiration and popularity. For the very 
reason that hitherto he had been undervalued, the 
unaccustomed consideration of all around him now 
tempted him to extravagances. 

For the whole aspect of affairs in Paris and in France 
was altered. Momoro, the cautious printer of the 
Rue de la Harpe, was' now no longer afraid to publish 
Camille's pamphlet, " La France Libre." 

Momoro was a man indeed who moved with the 
times. From henceforth he styled himself the 
" First Printer of the National Liberty." Later, he 
was to become one of the most violent supporters 
of the Terror, an extremist whom at last the Terrorist 



Government itself threw into prison for preaching the 
" agrarian " law of ultra-socialism when sent on a 
mission into the provinces. 

On July 15 th, the very day after the taking of the 
Bastille, " La France Libre " was published. The 
pamphlet met with instantaneous success. This 
" song of the Gallic lark," as it has been called by 
M. Louis Combes, voiced the thoughts which many 
were now formulating in their minds, although as 
yet they dared scarcely express them in words. 

, On the title-page Camille inscribes himself as 
" M. Camille Desmoulins, Avocat au Parlement de 
Paris, Electeur du Bailliage de Vermandois." 

A motto or epigraph follows, according to the 
custom of the time, and, according to Camille's own 
custom, the quotation is taken from the classics. 
He uses Cicero's phrase : " Quae quoniam in foveam 
incidit, obruatur," translating it with characteristic 
freedom in the words : " Puisque la bete est dans le 
piege, qu'on I'assomme." 

Camille strikes a note of daring at the very beginning 
of the pamphlet by stating boldly that : — 

" There have always been in France patriots who have sighed 
for liberty. The return of that liberty to the French people 
was reserved for our days. ... I thank Thee, O Heaven, for 
permitting me to be born at the end of this century." 

Then follows a violent tirade against the clergy 
and the nobility — " the Aristocrats, the Vampires 
of the State " — who have crushed out liberty. After 
describing the oppression, the almost slavery which 
the people of France have suffered for so long, Camille, 
with an abrupt transition which is at once extraor- 
dinarily clever and extraordinarily cynical, holds up 
before the sovereign People another and still more 
tangible inducement to rebellion. 

" For myself I feel courage enough to die for the liberty of 
my country, and a very powerful motive will draw those 


whom the righteousness of this cause is not sufficient to 

" Never was richer spoil offered to the victors. Forty 
thousand palaces, hotels, castles, two-fifths of the riches of 
France to be distributed amongst them, will be the prize of 

Camille discourses at length on this subject and 
then makes another dramatic change of front. 

" But we will turn our eyes from these horrors," he says 
feelingly. "And may Heaven deign to withdraw them from 
above our heads ! No, without doubt, that which we dread 
will never take place. I only wish to frighten the aristocrats 
by showing them their inevitable extinction if they resist longer 
the call of reason, the wish and supplication of the people. 

" These gentlemen will be in no hurry to expose themselves 
to lose the riches which it is easy for them to preserve, and of 
which assuredly we have no wish to despoil them." 

This whole preamble reminds one irresistibly of 
Mark Antony's famous speech, where Shakespeare 
pictures him stirring up the worst passions of the 
Roman mob, whilst affecting only to assuage their 

The two next sections treat of the moot questions 
of the deliberation by head or by order in the States- 
General, and of that other burning theme of the 
day : " What is a Constitution ? " 

Camille's arguments touching these points are 
simple enough and those which were most likely to 
appeal to the popular spirit of the time. He avers 
that every usage, such as the vote by order, must have 
been originally ratified by the people. Therefore, 
this same people who have decreed may also annul 
and make the vote by head obligatory : — 

" The present will derogates the will of the past. The 
generation which is no more mvist cede its powers to us who 
live, or, otherwise, let the dead rise from their tombs and come 
to maintain their old usages against us." 


In the second section there is a curiously anti- 
socialistic paragraph, one of those strange contradic- 
tions which are so common in the Republican writings 
of that day, and which prove how very rarely it was 
that the men of the Revolution wished to carry into 
practice their theories of absolute equality. 

After making use of the decidedly weak argument 
that because the majority of the people have never 
yet passed an agrarian law, it is certain, therefore, 
that they never will, Camille goes on to say : — 

" Legislators have deleted from the body politic the class of 
people whom they called at Rome proletariats, as being vTseful 
only to breed children and to recruit society ; they have rele- 
gated them to a division without influence over the assemblies 
of the people. Withdrawn from political affairs by a thousand 
cares, this division can never become dominant in the State. 

" The very consequences of their condition bar them from 
the assemblies. Can the servant give his opinion with the master, 
and the beggar with those upon whose alms he subsists ? " 

So much for Camille's views of Liberty, Equality 
and Fraternity when he was discussing the question 
of putting the theory into practical use. 

The third section is perhaps the most famous 
portion of the pamphlet. It treats of the clergy, and 
begins with the words : " C'est la clergie qui a fait le 
clerge," which means, literally, " It is clericalism 
which has made the clergy." 

Camille then proceeds to argue rather appositely 
that, if it is not as clerics or clerks that churchmen take 
the first place in the community, surely it cannot be 
as ministers of that religion which commands that its 
priests should take the lowest and not the highest seat. 

There follows a bitter and sweeping tirade against 
the priesthood, which is succeeded by a passage con- 
taining a fairly clear and succinct exposition of 
Camille's views on the subject of religion. 

" Atheism is treated as a species of delirium, and with 
reason. Yes, there is a God, we see it plainly as we cast our 


eyes around the universe ; but we see it like those unfortunate 
children who, having been exposed and deserted by their 
parents, perceive that they have a father ; the course of nature 
ordains that they must have had one ; but it is in vain that 
they call upon this father ; he does not reveal himself. 

" It is fruitlessly that I seek to find what cult pleases him 
most ; he does not manifest himself by any sign, and his 
thunderbolt strikes alike our churches and the mosques of 

" It is not God who has need of religion, it is mankind. 
God does not require incense, processions and prayers, but we 
have need of hope, of consolation, and of one who will reward 
us. In the face of this indifference which he manifests towards 
all cults, can we not give ourselves a national religion ? " 

The passage follows which has been already quoted 
in a previous chapter, where Camille pleads the cause 
of a gayer religion, a religion like that of the Greeks 
and Romans. Pagan as he was by nature, he rebelled 
against the cult of Christianity, which promised him 
no recompense in this world save poverty and sorrow. 

He remarks, with some show of reason, it must be 
confessed, that the worst kings of France were always 
the most outwardly scrupulous in religious observances, 
and finally concludes that : " We must be given a 
courageous religion, beneficial to the State, if its 
ministers wish still to belong to the first order." 

In the fourth section, which treats of the nobility, 
Camille inveighs bitterly against the arbitrary barriers 
of rank and caste. 

He calls upon his fellow-citizens to annihilate these 
absurd and onerous distinctions. He ends by assuring 
the nobles themselves that, if they willingly resign 
their rights, with a good grace, the people will re- 
ciprocate by restoring those rights to them again, 
which strikes one as neither logical nor consistent 
after the diatribe which has gone before. 

Camille afterwards proceeds to give a concentrated 
history of all the kings of France from Philippe le Bel 
downwards. This portion of the pamphlet is frankly 


copied, in scheme at least, from one of the works of 
Mirabeau, " Lettres de Cachet." Camille's comments 
certainly do not err on the side of flattery ; indeed, 
in many instances his remarks are grossly and wilfully 
exaggerated. According to him, the whole line of French 
kings were forgers, coiners, murderers and worse, and, 
contrary to expectation, he becomes no milder in his 
statements as he approaches nearer to his own times. 

It is possible for us now, after the lapse of almost 
two centuries, to see what a large proportion of truth 
there is in Camille's estimate of the characters and 
reigns of Louis XIV and his immediate successors, 
the Regent Orleans and Louis XV. At the time when 
he wrote it certainly required courage to describe in 
this fashion the reigning monarch's own forbears. 

In concluding this section Camille uses his new- 
found weapon of bitter raillery. 

" Such was the reign of Louis the Well-Beloved ; but he 
was not wicked. And what more could he have done, cried 
Mirabeau, if he had been ? Tarquin, nevertheless, cried 
Cicero, was not wicked. He was not cruel, he was only proud, 
and our fathers have expelled him ; but these were Romans. 
And we . . . pardon, dear fellow-citizens, when I attended 
the National Assembly I said : We are worth more than the 
Romans, and Cyneas has seen nothing equal to this in the 

In reading such words as these one does not wonder 
that Momoro hesitated to publish this pamphlet. As 
Camille himself naively remarks : " Je m'attends aux 
clameurs que ce paragraphe va exciter." 

But if he is outspoken here, in the last section the 
bold writer is even bolder. He there discusses : 
" What Constitution is the best for France ? " 

Camille argues with plenty of skill that it is the 
kingly state which corrupts even the best of men, 
not the man who, by his faults, lowers the kingly 
state. If absolute power is placed in the hands of 
any one man, it invites him to become a tyrant. 


Camille avows his own Republican views in an 
extraordinarily" open manner when one considers that, 
as Aulard says in speaking of this exact period : " I 
have searched thoroughly and I have found only one 
Frenchman who, at this time, called himself a Re- 
publican ; it was Camille Desmoulins. In his ' France 
Libre,' written at the end of June, 1789, and placed 
on sale on the July 17th following, he declares his 
preference for a Republic before a Monarchy." 

Notwithsta.nding this, Camille does not yet avowedly 
wish to throw the King overboard. He would still 
accept a limited — a very limited — monarchy. Except 
in that he has not fulfilled his promises to the people, 
Camille has no quarrel with the King as an individual. 
In speaking of him, indeed, he uses the old argument 
of Brutus : " I love Louis XVI personally, but the 
monarchy is none the less odious to me." 

Finally, Camille paints a word picture of the 
millennium to come, when the National Assembly shall 
have completed the work which it has so nobly begun. 
In what are by far the finest passages of the whole 
pamphlet Camille acclaims the time when there 
will be liberty of commerce, liberty of conscience, 
liberty to write, liberty to speak ; a national army, a 
national treasury, and then, carried away by enthusi- 
asm, he cries : " Why should we wish to be Bretons, 
Bearnais, Flemings ? Could there be under heaven a 
finer name than that of Frenchman ? To that famous 
name all ought to sacrifice their own ! " 

Camille brings the whole work to a conclusion with 
one of those classical parallels of which he was always 
so fond : — 

" Following the example of that Lacedemonian, Otriades, 
who, alone, and wounded to death upon the field of battle, 
raised a trophy with his trembling hands and wrote in his 
blood : * Sparta has vanquished,' I feel that I could die joy- 
fully for such a splendid cause, and, pierced with wounds, I 
also would write in my blood : ' France is free ! ' " 


This pamphlet is a very characteristic example of 
Camille's early work. From a literary point of view, 
it is exceedingly interesting. The style is clear, easy 
and unforced ; the choice of words is just ; the 
writer seems to gain his effects without effort. Every- 
where may be found that distinction and felicity of 
phrase which causes Camille's writings to stand out in 
such vivid relief against those of his fellow-journalists 
of the Revolutionary period. Indeed, to receive full 
justice the " France Libre " must be read in its original 

As to the boldness of expression, that is the more 
remarkable when we remember that, at this time, no 
more servile press could have been found than that of 
France. This reckless disregard of consequences, this 
literary outspokenness was always one of Camille's 
most marked characteristics. It was at once the curse 
and the honour of his life and work. In the beginning 
it brought him fame ; later, it was to draw down upon 
him the bitter hatred of the Royalists and Moderates. 
Yet later still, he was to be overwhelmed with self- 
reproach when he saw the consequences of some of 
those written words of his, and in the end it was his 
rash and generous frankness which led him to death. 

" La France Libre," as we have said, was enormously 
successful. It firmly established Camille's name as a 
writer. Nevertheless, from a pecuniary point of view 
the publication was not satisfactory. The author 
received only thirty louis for the pamphlet, and but 
twelve louis for his next work, the " Discours de la 
Lanterne," which was probably published at about 
the middle or end of August. The only date given 
on the title-page is that of " L'an I" de la Liberte." 

In this " Discours de la Lanterne aux Parisiens " 
we find Camille at his best and worst. It is not a 
studied and reasoned piece of work like its predecessor, 
written in the full knowledge that publication meant 
probable imprisonment or even worse. Now that the 


Bastille had fallen and the first year of liberty had 
dawned, Camille could say what he pleased. He was 
the spoilt favourite of the mob, and it is the mob 
whom he addresses. 

The " Lanterne " made a direct appeal to the 
populace, and it is an appeal which is unworthy of its 
author. He played to the gallery when he called 
himself " Procureur-General de la Lanterne," using 
that title which was afterwards to be so often cast in 
his teeth. 

It is in order to attract attention, to make a laugh, 
as it were, that Camille writes in the person of that 
ill-famed " lamp-iron " in the Place de Greve, at the 
corner of the Rue de la Vannerie, where so many 
impromptu executions had taken place, including that 
of the wretched Foulon. 

Not that the whole pamphlet bears the imprint of 
bloodthirstiness. Cruel as it is, this work of Camille's 
has a worse reputation than it deserves — chiefly 
amongst those who have never read one word of it. 

The " Discours " bears as an epigraph the famous 
passage of St. John's Gospel : " Qui male agit odit 
lucem," Camille's free and irreverent translation of 
which runs : " Rogues object to the lamp-post." 

The author opens the pamphlet in that lightly 
jesting spirit which was afterwards to render him so 

" Brave Parisians," he writes, in the person of the lamp- 
post, " what thanks do I not owe to you ? You have rendered me 
for ever celebrated and blessed amongst lanterns. What are 
the lanterns of Sosia and of Diogenes in comparison with me ? 
He sought for one man, and I have found two hundred 
thousand. . . . Yes, I am the queen of lanterns. Citizens, 
I wish to render myself worthy of the honour which you have 
done me by your choice." 

Camille then goes on to eulogise at great length 
that famous night of August 4th, when the nobility 
voluntarily and on the impulse of the moment gave 


up their feudal rights : " It is this night which has 
reinstated the French people in the rights of man, 
which has declared all citizens equal." 

In this passage and in many of the pages which follow 
there is no sign of cruelty or vindictiveness. Certainly 
Camille complains later that certain proved con- 
spirators against the sovereign people have been allowed 
to slip from the hands of the law, but he adds : — 

" Not that I love too hasty justice ; you know that I gave 
evidences of discontent during the execution of Foulon and 
Berthier ; I broke the fatal cord twice in succession. I was 
perfectly convinced of the treason and of the faults of these 
two rascals ; but the executioner put too much precipitation 
into the affair. I would have liked an interrogatory and the 
revelation subsequently of a number of facts." 

Yet, in spite of this, he continues throughout the 
pamphlet to play with the idea of murder, treating it 
as a thing of little account, palliating and excusing deeds 
of violence, even while not openly advocating them. 

Even in these early days Camille makes the famous 
accusation which he and others were so often to repeat 
later, the accusation that the counter-revolutionary 
party were endeavouring to disgust the populace with 
their own work by encouraging licence and extreme 

Here is the germ of that idea which afterwards led 
to Camille's violent diatribes against the " Hebertists " 
and " Ultras." He warns the people against this 
attempt, and especially against the books published 
with that aim in view. 

Yet after abusing one de Tellier for writing a 
pamphlet of this description Camille with generous 
inconsistency protests with all his might against the 
fact that this journalist has been sent to the Abbaye 
for his opinions, and demands, in his own unrivalled 
manner, the instant liberation of the " poor devil of 
an author." 


This is followed by an enthusiastic address to 
Mirabeau, whom Camille was just beginning to look 
upon as his most powerful friend : afterwards, by a 
rather abrupt transition, he breaks into an impassioned 
defence of the Palais Royal, which he speaks of as the 
" Forum of Paris." 

The rest of the pamphlet is mainly taken up with 
one of Camille's usual denunciations of a dominant 
cult in religion. A national, universal, unsectarian 
religion is the only one that he will recognise — such a 
religion as was put to the test by the Conventional 
Government after Camille's death, only to fail most 
ignominiously. Indeed the attempt was so hopelessly 
unsuccessful that men were fain to legislate for the 
return of Catholicism. 

But this was in the future ; in the meantime, 
Camille declaims against dogmatism at great length, 
supporting his remarks on a state religion by a phrase 
which has become somewhat famous. 

" Anyone in the world," he says, " would turn 
heretic, schismatic, or even Jew, if it were necessary, 
to avoid paying anything." 

If I have seemed to defend the " Discours de la 
Lanterne " against the charges of bloodthirstiness 
which are so freely brought against it, it is not from 
any wish to palliate the dangerous tendencies of 
this pamphlet. 

Still, without in any way excusing Camille, it is 
necessary to do justice to what is in many ways a very 
brilliant piece of work. 

There are fine passages in the " Discours," passages 
which manifest nothing but patriotism and a real 
desire for the well-being of France. Camille forgets 
his audience, as it were, when he is describing his ideal 
Republic, in which there shall be no sorrow nor blood- 
shed, where all shall dwell together in happiness and 

Then he remembers that he is addressing a mob 


whose present sport is bloodshed and who require to 
be humoured ; he promptly pulls himself up and 
reverts to the playful cruelty of the opening para- 

Throughout the whole pamphlet Camille's scholar- 
ship and erudition are always manifest, if never 
ostentatiously displayed. Perhaps no writer of that 
time could make use of classical quotations and 
allusions with more skill or with less appearance of 

In spite of everything which could and can be 
advanced in its favour, it is very evident that Camille 
himself was ashamed of this work of his. One 
cannot read his letters at this time without seeing 
that he took little or no pride in the " Discours." 
It was published anonymously, and it was not until 
the pamphlet proved an unexpected success that 
Camille acknowledged its authorship, although one 
cannot help fancying that the style must have been 
unmistakable to any intelligent critic. 

Writing to his father at the end of September, the 
young man says : — 

" The work of the ' Lanterne ' is not worth anything like 
as much as the other, and it would have caused me to decline 
in public opinion if I had put my name to it. However, I have 
heard many nice things said about it, and, unless my publisher 
wilfully deceives me, no one has spoken badly of it to him." 

In a second letter, two days later, he refers to the 
pamphlet again : — 

" My ' Discours de la Lanterne ' is selling well, and the 
edition is almost exhausted. It is the only brochure which is 
being purchased in these days, but everyone is so tired of all 
these pamphlets that I hesitate to allow a second edition to be 
struck off." 

It is really something of a relief to find that Camille 
could take no honest satisfaction in this particular 
piece of work. 


Mr. J. H. McCarthy, in his brilliant history of the 
French Revolution, has given us his estimate of the 
" Discours," an estimate which, if it errs slightly 
perhaps on the side of severity, is nevertheless just 
enough in the main. 

" It was a very brilliant pamphlet," he says, " and it had a 
great success. It is not pleasant reading now, after the interval 
of more than a century, but it is easy to understand how it 
affected and attracted the unstable, the agitated minds of 
1789. ... It shows us a Camille whose epigrams are scrawled 
in blood, who finds an amused delight in cruelty like a gamin. 
... He came in the fullness of time to regret its utterances 
bitterly. ... It is a horrible piece of work, and its influence 
was incalculably evil, but with all its horror it charms by its 
genius, by its dazzling insolence, by the wit which wings the 
most venomed shafts of a murderous personality." 

It is true that the very gaiety, eloquence and charm 
of Camille's style were perilous. To him, hanging 
is a jest, murder a very fine art ; at least, so it must 
have appeared to his readers. 

It was indeed a never-ceasing surprise to Camille 
that his writings were taken so seriously, although he 
would have disclaimed such a sentiment indignantly. 
It was not that he did not mean what he wrote : he 
was thoroughly in earnest — at the time. 

Then . . . the wind changed, and Camille's 
opinions with it, but the works of his pen remained, 
a witness of what he had been, of what he was no 

Very bitterly was Camille to regret during the last 
months of his Hfe that he " had written so much." 
Sometimes remorse came to him swiftly, as in the case 
of his " Brissot Unveiled." We shall see how in the 
midst of the trial and condemnation of the Giron- 
dists, the realisation came suddenly to the journalist 
that it was he who had killed these men, his former 
friends, by means of his book. And the bitterness of 
that realisation lay in this : that he had already come 


almost to the point of abjuring the opinions which 
had led him to write the fatal pamphlet. 

As to Camille's consistent and unvarying rancour 
against sectarian religion and its ministers, one must 
remember that this was a characteristic both of his 
time and of his nation. For his was an age which 
absolutely lacked religion ; so much so, that the 
simple, unaffected piety of Louis XVI was considered 
something extraordinary, almost outside nature. 

Camille did not go so far as many, nay, most, of 
his contemporaries ; he was never, in word or deed, 
an atheist. As he wrote in later days : " I have always 
believed in the immortality of the soul." 

But there is a strain of irreverence in his writings 
which may be met with in those of French authors 
of all ages. It is a strange and alien thing to us of 
other nations, who blaspheme, should we wish to do 
so, in more downright fashion. 

Camille knew the Scriptures well ; he quotes from 
them freely, and often appositely, but, as it were, 
with his tongue in his cheek, in a manner which jars 
on us. Again and again he uses and misuses texts to 
serve his purpose. 

For instance, in that famous number of the " Vieux 
Cordelier," where he so vehemently denounced 
Hebert and his followers, he paraphrases the Gospel 
in this fashion, when he says, with terrible and bitter 
raillery, referring to Hebert's scurrilous journal ; 
" II y aura plus de joie dans le ciel pour un Pere 
Duchesne qui se convertit, que pour quatre-vingt- 
dix-neuf Vieux Cordeliers qui n'ont pas de besoin de 

His famous answer to the interrogations before the 
Revolutionary Tribunal has been often quoted as the 
extreme of blasphemy. It is well known that when 
asked his age he replied : " I am thirty-three, the age 
of the Sansculotte Jesus ; a critical age for every 


It is quite certain, however, that in speaking thus 
Camille was not in the least degree deUberately 

Before that Tribunal men were either silent, or set 
themselves to make phrases. Danton had given 
Camille an example of the latter course, and it was, 
besides, natural to the journalist to speak on occasion, 
as we should say, for effect. 

Moreover, it must be remembered that the term 
" Sansculotte " as applied to Christ was in no way 
originated by Camille at the moment. It was a 
phrase in common use at this time, as we learn from 
the contemporary writer Mercier in his " New Picture 
of Paris," published in 1800. 

" Who would have guessed," he says, " that our Lord Jesus 
Christ would have been called the Sansculotte Jesus, that he 
would have no other surname in the Journals, in the Tribunals, 
at the Jacobins ; and that this name was not given as a sarcasm, 
but as a true title of respect. A prodigious change then has 
taken place in the ideas of the people ; the permission of saying 
everything created a peculiar kind of spirit, which, joined to a 
good portion of ignorance, was only more humorous." 

The publication of these, his first important 
literary works, brings to a close the opening phase of 
Camille's life. 

From his early youth up till this time, the wind 
which guided the young man's course had been 
settled in the north. Bitterly cold and biting it blew, 
clear and pitiless — a true wind of liberty — and the 
weathercock obeyed its touch. 

It is such an influence as this which is evident in 
Camille's early work. All is clear and well-defined ; 
there is nothing misty, nebulous, or indecisive in this 
writing. Even that sunny gaiety which is never quite 
absent from anything which Camille's hand has 
touched appears now sharp and frosty, like sparkling 
sunshine on snow. 


Already there were signs that the wind was changing. 
Camille's cold winter of discontent was over, for a 
time. In a little while he was to feel the pleasant 
warmth of the sun of prosperity and, under the 
influence of the western wind of success and love, we 
shall see our weathercock veer and point to another 


" The winds come lightly whispering from the West, 
Kissing, not ruffling, the blue deeps serene." 



WITH the publication of his two famous 
pamphlets began the second period of 
Camille's life, and that which was in 
most respects the happiest. 

Hitherto we have seen him gloomy, unsuccessful, 
unhappy. Now he had become suddenly famous, and 
it was not long before happiness followed on the heels 
of success. 

His first pubHcations, as we have seen, were extra- 
ordinarily well received, and they made for him a name. 
As he naively remarks in a letter to his father on 
September 20th : " On ne dit plus d'un auteur appele 
Desmoulins, mais ' une brochure de Desmoulins.' " 

Early in September a third production from 
Camille's pen appeared, " The Protest in favour of 
the Marquis de St.-Huruge." In this defence of the 
famous mob orator, who had recently been arrested and 
imprisoned in the Chatelet, the journalist made skilful 
use of his legal knowledge, although the pamphlet, 
like its subject, has lost much of its interest for us. 

Camille's letters to his father at this time reflect 
his state of mind very clearly. They are so uncon- 
sciously self-revelationary, they display such ingenuous 
conceit. He is flattered and spoilt, and he knows it — 
he says so very frankly — but ... he certainly has a 
very good opinion of himself. He is feverishly 
anxious for the appreciation of his father ; above all, 
he longs to make an impression upon the sceptical 
Guisards, although he is careful to insist upon his 
absolute disregard for their opinions. 



It is evident that M. Desmoulins, senior, had 
heard an exaggerated account of Camille's exploits. 
He believed that his scapegrace son had become more 
notorious than famous. It is plainly in answer to a 
reproving letter from his father that Camille writes 
as follows on September 20th: — 

" The best response to your letter full of reproaches is to 
send you the three works. I have prepared an immense packet, 
and you will find in it four copies of ' La France Libre,' of the 
' Lanterne,' and a number of copies of a little leaflet which has 
been infinitely praised, and upon which I am complimented 
everywhere (the ' Defence of the Marquis de St.-Huruge '). 
In addition I send with this letter a number of the ' Chronicle 
of Paris ' : compare these written and printed estimates of 
writers whom I do not know, and whose praise I am not rich 
enough to pay for, with the insults of our Guisards, and with 
what you call public indignation. 

" For the rest, when I send you the witness of the journals 
and when I tell you, as I did in my last letter, the infinitely 
flattering things that I have heard about ' La France Libre,' 
I do this on your account alone, in order that you may not 
blush for me, and not that you should excite the envy of our 
compatriots by repeating it all to them ; I know that nobody 
is a prophet in his own country, and it is useless to try to open 
the eyes of those whom the light wounds. 

" If you hear ill spoken of me, console yourself with the re- 
membrance of the testimony of MM. Mirabeau, Target, 
de Robespierre and more than two hundred deputies. . . . 
Recollect that a great part of the capital names me amongst 
the principal authors of the Revolution. Many even go so far 
as to say that I am the sole author. . . . But the testimony 
which flatters me the most is that of my own conscience, it is 
the interior knowledge that what I have done is good. I have 
contributed to free my country, I have made myself a name. 
. . . Nothing can give me another moment so happy as that 
one when, upon July 12th, I was, I will not say applauded by 
ten thousand people, but stifled with embraces and tears. Per- 
haps then I saved Paris from entire ruin, and the nation from 
the most horrible servitude. . . . No, those who speak ill of 
me deceive you ; they lie to themselves and at the bottom of 
their hearts they wish to have a son like me." 


The innocent vanity of this last paragraph is really 
delicious. Certainly Camille's head was turned with a 

For the first time in his life he was making an 
appearance in Parisian society. As he tells us, Mercier, 
the author of the " Tableaux de Paris," and others 
introduced him into good houses, and he could dine 
out whenever he wished. It was this fact which was 
at once his greatest delight and his greatest shame. 
Camille could be entertained, but he could not 

His literary work was enormously successful, but it 
was very far as yet from being profitable. He had 
sold his two first pamphlets outright for a ridiculously 
small sum, and his finances were in an extremely 
critical state. Nevertheless, Camille had come to the 
conclusion, naturally enough, that his present squalid 
lodgings were not suitable for a man of his improved 
position. He wanted to furnish rooms of his own, 
where he could receive his friends, and accordingly 
he arranged to take a suite in the Hotel de Nivernais. 

But inconsequent Camille had not reckoned upon 
the cost of furniture and of housekeeping on his own 
account. As he ruefully writes to his father on 
September 22nd, the expenses have absorbed all that 
he made by his last pamphlet. In short, he asks 
M. Desmoulins tentatively to send him five or six 

His father did not rise to the occasion. Possibly he 
rather distrusted Camille's own account of his sudden 
rise in the world, knowing this son of his of old. 
However that may be, he seems to have taken no notice 
of Camille's request, for on September 29th we find 
the young man writing to enquire anxiously whether 
his father has received his last letter. Apparently 
M. Desmoulins' only response was highly unsatis- 
factory, for on October 8th, the " chief author of the 
Revolution " wrote again in a most piteous strain. 


With a certain show of reason Camille insists upon 
the vital importance to him of a settled address, if he is 
to take the part which is his due in municipal politics. 

" With a domicile I should have been president, com- 
mandant of a district, representative of the Commune of 
Paris," he complains. " Instead of which, I am only a dis- 
tinguished writer. ... 

" But this is the astonishing part of it all ! For ten years 
past I have complained in these terms, and in the end it has 
been easier for me to make a Revolution, to upset France, 
than to obtain from my father a paltry fifteen louis, and a 
helping hand to enable me to set up an estabhshment. What 
a man you are ! With all your wit and all your virtues, you 
have never been able to understand me. You have constantly 
calumniated me, you have eternally called me a prodigal, a 
spendthrift, and nothing could be more untrue. . . . 

" Aid me in these circumstances and send me a bed, if you 
cannot permit me to buy one here. Can you refuse me a bed ? 
... I have a reputation in Paris, they consult me upon great 
affairs ; they invite me to dinner ; there is no pamphleteer 
whose works sell so well. I only lack a domicile ; I beseech 
you to help me, send me six louis, or at least a bed ! " 

Camille explains that his ready money has been 
exhausted in paying his debts. " I am almost without 
creditors, but also without money ! " 

Probably M. Desmoulins took these reproaches at 
their right valuation, and made allowances like the 
wise man that he was. It seems that Camille's letter 
led to no quarrel and obtained for him the help which 
he needed. A few months later we shall find the 
young man writing to his home in very different 

It was during these summer months, immediately 
after the fall of the Bastille, that the friendship began 
between Camille Desmoulins and Gabriel-Honore de 
Riquetti, Comte de Mirabeau. This friendship was a 
very real thing on both sides, although it was spoilt 
and finally broken off by quarrels and misunder- 



/(y?^^ . 


It would appear that Camille first brought himself 
to the notice o£ the great Revolutionary Tribune as 
early as the spring of 1789, by asking for a post on the 
staff of the paper which Mirabeau edited. 

This journal was designed to describe the proceed- 
ings of the States-General in detail, but it only 
appeared for a short time at the beginning of May 
under its original title of " Journal des Etats-Gener- 
aux." The paper was unauthorised, and Mirabeau 
was not in good repute with the Government ; 
moreover, he attacked Necker in one of the early 
issues, and for this reason among others further 
publication of the journal was forbidden by an order 
of the Council. 

Mirabeau, however, eluded this decree by con- 
tinuing to publish the paper under the title of " Lettres 
de Mirabeau a ses Commettants," and it was circulated 
very freely in Paris and the Provinces. After the 
fall of the Bastille and the subsequent enfranchisement 
of the Press the name of the journal was altered to 
that of " Courier de Provence." 

Although there is no evidence that Camille ever 
contributed personally to Mirabeau's paper, it is 
probable that the great man foresaw that the journalist 
might be useful to him in the future. No one ever 
formed more rapid or more just opinions of the men 
about him than Mirabeau, and there is no doubt that 
he perceived the spark of genius in the impecunious 
little lawyer — perceived too that it might be utilised 
to serve Count Mirabeau and, through him, France. 

He made much of Camille, he invited him to his 
house, gave him such dinners as the young fellow had 
never probably conceived as possible, showed him life 
in more senses of the word than one. 

Camille was absolutely dazzled, and small wonder. 
Mirabeau was rapidly becoming the most prominent 
man of his day, and he was as great in fascination as 
in all else. Where he cared sufficiently to exert his 


power — and there is little doubt that he cared for 
Camille — he could be irresistible. 

And Camille, to use his own forcible words, loved 
Mirabeau " comme une maitresse." We cannot do 
better than quote from one of his letters to Brissot, 
written after the death of Mirabeau : — 

" Mirabeau made me live with him under the same roof at 
Versailles," he says. " He flattered me by his esteem, he 
touched me by his friendship, he mastered me by his genius 
and his great qualities. I loved him to idolatry." 

At first Camille thought of Mirabeau only as a 
mighty patron, able, if he was pleased to do so, to give 
him employment as a journalist. 

On September 29th, however, we find the young 
man writing to his father in high triumph, to tell 
him that the great man now treats him as a familiar 
friend : — 

" For eight days past I have been staying at Versailles with 
Mirabeau. Every instant he takes my hand, he pats me on 
the back. ... I feel that his table, too delicate and too over- 
loaded, will corrupt me. His burgundies and his maraschino 
have an attraction which I seek vainly to hide from myself, 
and I have all the difficulty in the world to regain my re- 
publican austerity and to detest the aristocrats whose crime 
it is to enjoy these excellent dinners. I prepare motions for 
Mirabeau, and he calls this initiating me into great affairs." 

It is very plain from this last remark that Mirabeau 
was making use of Camille, as he made use of everybody 
for one purpose or another. However, it would appear 
that on this occasion the young man outstayed his 
welcome, for we find him writing on October 8th : — 

" I have passed two charming weeks with Mirabeau ; but, 
seeing that I was no longer useful to him, I bade him farewell, 
and I have returned to Paris. We have parted to meet again, 
and we are good friends ; he has invited me to come and spend 
eight days with him whenever I like. During my sojourn at 
Versailles, he asked me to compose a memoir of the town of 
Belesme against its sub-delegate and intendant. I have done it." 


It was thus that the friendship began which was 
to end sadly, at no very distant date, amidst clouds of 
doubt and dissension. 

In the meantime the Revolution was not going for- 
ward as fast as the people had confidently hoped and 
expected. The retrograde Court party was still very 
strong, although much weakened by the incessant 
out-going tide of emigration. As for the National 
Assembly, its work was more or less at a standstill, and 
it had not yet given France the promised Constitution. 
Its very composition militated against any combined 
or united effort. Truer words were never spoken than 
those of Mirabeau with reference to the States- 

" More than five hundred Frenchmen," he said, " gathered 
from all parts of the Kingdom, without a leader, without 
organisation, all free, all equal ; none with any authority, 
none feeling himself under any obligation to obey, and all, 
like Frenchmen, wishing to be heard before they would listen." 

At last, on October 5th, maddened by famine and 
by the open insults of the Court, the people took 
matters into their own hands. Everyone knows the 
story of how a great concourse of men and women 
executed the famous march to Versailles on that wet 
autumn day, how they camped round the Palace, a 
gaunt menacing throng, how, in the early dawn of 
the following morning, they broke into the house of 
their King, and would have assassinated the Queen but 
for the self-devotion of a mere handful of Royal guards. 

The market women of Paris, the men of the slum 
fauxbourgs, gained their point. They brought back 
the Royal family to the capital by main force, and 
obliged them to take up their abode in the dilapidated 
palace of the Tuileries, practically prisoners, so far 
as free will over their own movements was concerned. 

Camille hailed this event as a fresh victory of the 
populace — as a crowning victory. Writing on October 


5th, he says : " You have heard no doubt of the great 
Revolution which has been effected : Consummatum 

It was at about this time that Camille began to 
contemplate the possibility of publishing a journal 
of his own. There was a fashion at that time for 
personal news-sheets, usually produced weekly, of 
which the entire contents, or at least the bulk of them, 
were written by one man alone. 

This form of journalism was born of the Revolution, 
and the newly attained freedom of the Press. It was a 
method of airing their views which appealed irre- 
sistibly to the young writers of both parties, and it 
had an especial fascination for Camille. 

Probably he had no difficulty in finding a printer 
willing to publish this new venture of his. Camille 
was already well known as a writer ; more than that, 
he was popular. 

But whether the paper, when once started, would 
be successful or not, was the question which must 
have tormented Camille day and night before that 
first number of his journal was published on November 
28th, 1789. 

The new publication was entitled the " Revolutions 
de France et de Brabant," and it appeared weekly in 
the form of a little octavo pamphlet in a grey paper 
cover. An extract from the prospectus which was 
distributed beforehand will give some idea of the 
scope of the paper and also of the spirit in which 
Camille published it : — 

" This journal will appear every Saturday," it runs. " Each 
number will be divided into three sections : ist Section. 
France. 2nd Section. Brabant, and the other kingdoms 
which, adopting the cockade and demanding a national 
assembly, merit a place in this journal. 3rd Section. In order 
to draw back, as far as possible, the frontiers of our censorial 
empire, under the title of varieties this paragraph will embrace 
all which can interest my dear fellow citizens and amuse them 


this winter in their chimney corners. I await the maledictions 
of the aristocrats ; I see them, extended idly on their couches, 
spring up in fury and seize the tongs : ' Vile author, if thou 

wert here ! ' But I remember what my dear Cicero said : 

' Subeundae sunt bonis inimicitiae ; subeantur.' 

" We have neglected nothing in order to obtain fresh and 
reliable news, and hold out to our subscribers the promise of our 
epigraph : Quid Novi ? The price of our publication is lo 
livres 15 sols for Paris, and 7 livres 10 sols for the provinces, 
for three months, carriage paid all over the kingdom." 

The paper was illustrated, by Garney, the publisher, 
with a weekly caricature. These same engravings, by 
the way, were often a cause of great offence to Camille, 
for one reason or another. 

Charles de Monseignat, in his " Histoire des 
Journaux du France," inveighs most bitterly against 
these pictures, as infamous productions, and evidently 
considers that the journalist was responsible for them. 
This was very far from being the case. The caricatures 
were entirely provided by the publisher, much against 
Camille's wishes, and the editor evidently did not 
always even see them before publication. He very 
often most vehemently and outspokenly disapproved 
of them. 

In the seventeenth number of the paper he states 
expressly that the illustrations were not his affair. 

" I protest," he says, " against the woodcut at the head of 
my last number. I have already stated that I do not meddle 
with the frontispiece and the figures, except in three or four 
instances when I gave the idea." 

All those doubts and fears which Camille must have 
felt respecting the reception of his journal were soon 
dispelled. The paper was instantaneously successful ; 
from henceforth the Revolution found a new voice. 

On December 4th. Camille writes exultantly to his 
father : — 

" I forwarded the first number of my journal to you ; 
have you not received it ? Please let me know whether it has 


arrived. I send you two prospectuses. If it is possible to do 
so, because nobody is a prophet in his own country, obtain 
some subscribers for me. Behold me a journalist and deter- 
mined to use to the full the liberty of the Press. My first 
number is considered to be perfect ; but shall I be able to 
keep it up to this standard ? I am so busy that I write this 
to you at two o'clock in the morning." 

Camille need not have doubted the continued 
success of his venture. 

On December 31st he was able to write again, after 
several numbers had appeared : — 

" Fortune herself grows tired of pursuing me. Judge of 
the success of my journal. I have in the town of Marseilles 
alone one hundred subscribers, in Dunkirk, one hundred and 
forty. If I had foreseen such a sale I would not have agreed 
to dispose of the paper to my publisher for two thousand 
crowns a year ; it is true that he has promised me four thou- 
sand when I shall have arrived at three thousand subscribers 
(what Jews these publishers are !). 

" Nevertheless, it is not money that I have looked for in this 
enterprise, but the defence of my principles. What letters ! 
What flattering truths I receive ! . . . I am become indifferent 
to these eulogies, and as I appeared vain when people were 
pleased to humiliate me, so I despise to-day the flattering things 
which they address to me. That which touches me far more, 
or rather, that which is the only thing which touches me, is the 
friendship of patriots and the embraces of those republicans 
who come to see me, and some of them from very far away." 

One must not infer from this that Camille's paper 
was ever popular in the same sense as " L'Ami du 
Peuple " or " Le Pere Duchesne." 

His style did not appeal to the lower classes to the 
same extent as did the solemn invectives of Marat and 
the blasphemous obscenities of Hebert. It was like 
offering an agricultural labourer expensive champagne ; 
he would infinitely prefer stout or ginger-beer. 

Nevertheless there were many who could appreciate 
that fine writing and ready wit of Camille's ; many 
who recognised him, even then, as one of the few 


great journalists who had sprung up amidst the 
throng of mediocre writers. The feeling which one 
experiences in reading Camille's journal has never 
been better expressed than by Carlyle. 

" If in that thick murk of journalism," he writes, " with its 
dull blustering, with its fixed or loose fury, any ray of genius 
greets thee, be sure it is Camille's. The thing that Camille 
touches he with his light finger adorns ; brightness plays gentle, 
unsuspected, amid horrible confusions ; often is the word of 
Camille's worth reading where no other's is." 

Certainly from the very first Camille respected 
nobody in the pages of his journal. He attacked the 
Royalist party with the keen rapier of his wit, finding 
their weak points unmercifully, evading with a light 
laugh the heavy bludgeons with which they tried to 
crush him. 

Laughter was ever Camille's most deadly weapon — 
as Mirabeau — Tonneau, the Royalist brother of the 
great Tribune, and many others learnt to their cost. 
Not that it was only the members of the monarchical 
party whom he attacked. It was no idle boast which 
he made later in Number 69 of the " Revolutions de 
France et de Brabant." 

" I am neither for Lameth, nor for Barnave, nor for the 
Jacobins, I am for the country. ... I have ready for Mirabeau 
sometimes the trumpet, sometimes the whip." 

Necker, for whose sake he had called the people to 
arms on July 12th, soon fell under the journalist's 
displeasure, and the " Genevan hypocrite " is the 
mildest term which he applies to him. 

The fact was that Camille prided himself on saying 
exactly what he thought in his journal without fear 
of the consequences. He never paused to consider 
that what he thought to-day he might not think 
to-morrow — that, in the meantime, it was possible for 
the wind to change. 

It was this thoughtlessness which led him into so 


many terrible mistakes, mistakes which afterwards 
he would have given his very life to retrieve, which he 
did give his life in trying to retrieve. 

Especially at this early period of his literary career 
Camille was essentially, to use the words of Charles 
de Monseignat, the " gamin de Paris du journalisme," 
laughing at everything, bad or good, contemptible or 
worthy of respect. 

Under slightly different phraseology the modern 
historian Lenotre uses precisely the same simile when, 
speaking of Camille, he says : — 

" In that mighty movement which upheaved France, 
Camille is not to be classed with the thinkers ; he played the 
part of a Gavroche, but, like Gavroche, he instinctively knew 
what pleased Parisians ; a genius for theatrical effect, playful 
audacity, and that bitterly satirical eloquence which carries 
away the crowd." 

That most painstaking biographer, Jules Claretie, 
expresses the exact scope of Camille's talent very 

" He sharpens the edge of his wit," he writes, " until it cuts 
like a steel blade, wrought by an artist's hand, delicate as 
jeweller's work, but which pierces the heart of an enemy only 
the more quickly for that." 

Finally the great German historian, von Sybel, has 
given us his estimate of the young man with Teutonic 
force and strength of language. 

" The most gifted of these journalists," he says, speaking of 
the generation of writers who sprang up at the outbreak of the 
French Revolution, " was, indisputably, Camille Desmoulins, 
in whose easy causerie patriotism and licentiousness, love of 
freedom and venomous scorn, grace and cruelty were continually 
mingled. His writings were hke flowers upon a dung-hill and 
his life like a many-coloured but scorching and quickly ex- 
tinguished firework." 

Yet it must not be imagined that Camille did not 
take the power of the Press seriously. In No. 17 of his 


journal he shows that he knew what manner of edged 
tool it was with which he played. 

" At the present day," he says, " journalists exercise minis- 
terial functions. They denounce, they decree, they rule in 
unforeseen matters, they absolve or condemn. Every day 
they ascend the orator's tribune, and among them are stentorian 
voices which make themselves heard in the eighty-three 
departments. Places to hear these orators cost only two sous ; 
journals rain down every morning like the manna from heaven ; 
and fifty broadsheets enlighten the world each day, punctually 
as the sun." 

From November 28th, 1789, until the middle of 
July, 1 791, the " Revolutions de France et de Brabant " 
appeared weekly, making in all eighty-six numbers. 
When considered as a whole they form a most remark- 
able piece of work, witty, cruel, humorous or tragic, 
turn by turn, but always brilliant and always fasci- 

Throughout the winter of 1789 and the spring and 
early summer of 1790 Camille edited and wrote the 
journal entirely alone. It meant hard and constant 
toil, but the work was congenial and, moreover, he 
soon found himself in rather more comfortable 
circumstances, although it would be a mistake to 
suppose that the paper ever brought him in much 
more than a bare livelihood. 

It was not possible that Camille should continue 
weekly to abuse all and sundry without rousing a vast 
amount of antagonism against himself. In January, 
1790, Sanson, the executioner of Paris, afterwards to 
become so infamously famous, brought an action 
against the journalist on the plea that he had called 
him in his journal a " bourreau," and the Royalist 
periodicals assailed him constantly with his own 
weapons, although lacking their keen edge. 

If Camille is sometimes fierce in his attacks, his 
language pales before that of his opponents, the anti- 
revolutionary journalists.- These writers were proud 


to consider themselves gentlemen, but nevertheless 
they descend too often to utter vulgarity in these 
coarse attacks upon their enemy. Their sole idea of 
humour often seems to lie in the invention of clumsy 
puns, such as that which styled Camille " I'anon des 
moulins," which strikes one nowadays as a somewhat 
schoolboyish class of wit. 

At present Camille laughed at all these assaults. 
He could afford to do so, at least in his own opinion. 
He gives a very true picture of his normal, or abnormal 
state of mind at this time in a letter to his father. 

" At one moment I think life a delicious thing," he says, 
" and the moment after, it seems almost insupportable, and 
this happens to me ten times a day." 

The truth is, Camille was not yet completely happy. 
He was successful in his chosen profession, he was 
popular in a certain section of society, he was even 
moderately prosperous, in comparison, that is, with 
his former poverty, but all this did not seem to have 
brought him much nearer to the desire of his heart. 
Although he was now the avowed suitor of Lucile 
Duplessis, her father would not hear of the betrothal. 
Camille's sudden notoriety did not by any means 
increase his value in the eyes of worthy M. Duplessis. 
He wanted a safe, well-to-do husband for his lovely 
daughter, not an inflammatory firebrand of a journalist, 
who might be popular for the moment, but who, at 
the next swing of the pendulum, would, as likely as 
not, find himself in prison. 

It would seem that Lucile had discovered that she 
loved Camille ; there were clandestine meetings in 
the Luxembourg Gardens, meetings which the girl's 
mother connived at, if she did not actually arrange 
them. These stolen hours must have been some con- 
solation to Camille for the apparent hopelessness of 
his suit ; the two could not be completely miserable 
while they loved one another. 


Probably it was during the winter of 1789-90 that 
Camille moved into rooms in the Rue de Theatre 
Frangais. It was an important step in one respect, 
for it meant that he took up his residence in the 
district of the Cordeliers, the most progressive section 
of Paris, where Danton was the ruling spirit. 

When the electoral Assemblies for the States- 
General had completed their work in Paris in the 
spring of 1789 they were not in all instances immedi- 
ately dissolved. That of the Cordeliers continued to 
sit in the old convent of the Order from which it took 
its name, and was known as the Club or " Republic " 
of the Cordeliers. 

This Club, which shares the fame of the Jacobins, 
was, in these early days, even more advanced in 
politics. Its sittings were almost as much frequented 
as those of the Jacobins, and the speeches of its orators 
were listened to nearly as eagerly. 

Camille joined the club in February, 1790, and on the 
very day of his initiation we find him mentioned in 
connection with a curious little incident. He describes 
in his journal his feelings of pride and enthusiasm on 
finding himself a member of the famous club, and he 
tells how at the conclusion of the sitting it was 
announced that a young lady begged to be admitted 
to the hall. This was Theroigne de Mericourt, the 
famous courtesan, who appeared at the bar to propose 
that a Temple of the National Assembly should be 
erected on the site of the Bastille. 

The enthusiasm with which the suggestion was 
received is curiously indicative of the spirit of the 
time. A committee, consisting of Danton, Camille, 
Fabre d'Eglantine and others, was appointed by the 
Club and entrusted with the task of drawing up an 
address to the French Nation, to invite patriots to 
subscribe to the foundation of this Temple of Liberty, 
of Humanity, and of Reason, to which all people 
should come to consult their oracle. 


The address was drawn up on these lines, but it had 
little or no practical result. Impressionable Camille, 
however, waxes enthusiastic in his journal when 
speaking of the beauty of Mademoiselle Theroigne : 
" It is the Queen of Sheba," he exclaims, " come to 
visit the Solomon of the Districts." 

It is in this same month of February that we find 
Camille at his cruellest in the pages of the " Revolu- 
tions," where he seeks to justify the execution of the 
Marquis de Favras. This Royalist, guilty, it would 
seem, of no definite crime save that of Royalism, was 
ignominiously hung as a scapegoat for the sins of the 

In a number full of classical references and im- 
passioned apostrophes to the justice and mercy of the 
people, Camille protests vehemently that he will not 
listen to " accusations of barbarity against a people, 
who rejoice that human justice sometimes acts in the 
place of divine vengeance." 

Later in the article the journalist even strives to 
discount the undeniable bravery with which de 
Favras met his death. 

" The firmness with which he died," he says, " was that of a 
gladiator, who, being mortally wounded, strives to fall with 
decency and dignity." 

On the fifth day of April, 1794, Camille was to learn 
for himself that it is not always so easy a thing to die 
with that decency and dignity of which he speaks so 

In the spring of 1790 a cloud came over Camille's 
friendship with Mirabeau. The great orator did not 
bear patiently what he no doubt considered the young 
man's rather impertinent criticism of his conduct in 
the " Revolutions de France." It appears that he 
reproved Camille, and it is quite certain that the 
journalist took offence, for he never bore reproof in 
any form with equanimity. 


It was apparently Mirabeau, too great a man to be 
unforgiving, from whom came the first overtures for 
peace ; we find him writing to the younger man on 
May 2nd. 

" Well, poor Camille," he says, " has your head come right 
again ? We have sulked with you, but we forgive you." 

And again a little later, in a second letter. 

" Adieu, good boy, you deserve to be loved, notwithstanding 
your fiery flights." 

In spite of these advances the coldness continued, 
and there was no real revival of the friendship between 
this time and the death of the great man a year later. 
If Mirabeau had but realised it, he did not set to work 
in the right way to mollify the thin-skinned journalist. 
" Poor Camille," " Good boy " — nothing could have 
been better calculated to irritate a man of Camille's 
peculiar temperament than these phrases. He hated 
to be laughed at ; he hated to be treated as young, 
and yet it was always his fate to be spoken of in this 

It was the same to the very end. Robespierre's 
half-slighting, half -jeering reference to him as a spoilt 
boy led to that rash outburst on Camille's part, which 
was greatly instrumental in bringing about his arrest 
and death. 

Yet in justice Camille should have blamed his own 
personality and character and not these friends and 
enemies of his. He was indeed a boy who never grew 
up, the very Peter Pan of the Revolution. People 
could not take him seriously ; it is that which makes 
him at once so faulty and so lovable. 

One little fact seems to sum up the character of the 
man. Everyone who knew him, friends and foes alike, 
almost without exception spoke of him as " Camille." 
There is no other man of that period of whom the 
same can be said. What meaning, for instance, would 


it convey to most people if one talked of " Gabriel," 
" Georges," or " Jean-Paul," yet such were the 
Christian names of Mirabeau, Danton and Marat. 

Robespierre, to be sure, is recognisable as " Maxi- 
milian," but his contemporaries generally coupled the 
name with a prefix, such as " St. Maximilian " or 
" King Maximilian." 

It is impossible to deny that Marat, in his sardonic 
way, was a good judge of character. Hear what he 
says of, and to, Camille in the " Ami du Peuple " of 
August loth of this year of 1790 : — 

" Notwithstanding all your cleverness, my dear Camille, 
you are a complete novice in politics. Perhaps that amiable 
gaiety which is the fundamental trait of your character and 
which shows itself in your treatment of the gravest subjects 
opposes itself to serious reflection, but you are vacillating in 
your judgments ; you seem to have neither plan nor aim." 

A very just estimate, this, of the self-named weather- 
cock ; but perhaps we cannot wonder that Camille did 
not love Marat. 

A French poet, M. Emmanuel des Essarts, wrote 
some verses which were inserted by M. Jules Claretie 
in the appendix to his history of the Dantonists. No 
better description of Camille could be found than that 
which is contained in the last lines of this poem. 

" Voila le vrai Camille, une ame 
Enfantine et mobile, et foUe : oiseau de flamme, 
Esprit de faune, et coeur de femme," 


THE winter and spring of 1789-90 was 
marked by very few great political events. 
On February 4th the people of Paris 
and of France hailed with their usual 
optimism the dawn of a new golden age, when 
King Louis, apparently on his own initiative, came 
to the Hall of the National Assembly to propose 
that the whole country, led by himself in person, 
should renew the National Oath, should swear to be 
faithful to the King, to the Law and to the forth- 
coming Constitution. The oath was accordingly 
taken throughout all the districts of Paris with 
enthusiasm and ceremonial ; the whole city was 
illuminated, and the occasion was treated as a universal 

From the autumn of 1789 until the early summer of 
1790 Camille, as we have seen, edited the " Revolutions 
de France et de Brabant " alone. The paper con- 
tinued to be enormously successful, its circulation 
increased daily, and the pressure of work at last became 
too great even for the feverishly energetic journalist. 

Accordingly early in July, 1790, Camille came to an 
arrangement with Stanislas Freron by which the latter 
agreed to collaborate in the editorship of the journal. 

The paper at this time was published by Laifrey, 
and the agreement is still extant in which Camille 
undertakes the post of editor for the sum of 10,000 
livres annually, out of which he is to pay Freron 3000 
livres per annum, on condition that the latter contri- 
butes one-third of the contents of the journal. 



Freron was the son of the famous critic and reviewer 
of that name. He was something of a scholar and a 
capable journalist enough, although never a brilliant 
writer in the same sense as Camille. He was already 
editor-in-chief of the " Orateur du Peuple," a journal 
which was distinctly more violent in tone than that of 
Camille, and to which Marat was often a contributor. 
In fact, Freron's whole style of writing reflects that 
of the author of the " Ami du Peuple," and Marat 
refers to the young man in his letters as his " dear 

Freron was a more deliberately pitiless, possibly a 
more consistent Revolutionary, than Camille. His 
writings are quite as inflammatory, but strike one as 
more cold-blooded, lacking as they do the charm and 
grace of style of those of his collaborator. 

This " Lapin " Freron, as he was called by his 
friends, was indeed a curious, contradictory character. 
His activities were by no means confined to journalism. 
Later he was to distinguish himself, and that not 
altogether enviably, as a deputy from the Convention 
on mission to Toulon. He was one of those who carried 
the Terror into the Southern provinces of France, and, 
in the name of Liberty, filled Toulon and Marseilles 
with smoking ruins and desolated homes. 

History has written down Freron as cruel and 
bloodthirsty ; one of the mildest names applied to 
him is that of " singe-tigre " ; yet his friends loved 
him. He was one of that little irresponsible band of 
intimates whom we shall see soon at Bourg-la-Reine, 
laughing and playing together through Camille's long 
honeymoon. He has left to us the most charming 
and touching portrait of Lucile Desmoulins which it 
is possible to imagine, in a letter to her husband, from 
which we shall have occasion to quote later. 

That is the other side of Stanislas Freron — the side 
with which history does not reckon. 

Some of the best numbers of the " Revolutions de 


France " were those which Camille wrote at about 
this time. In Nos. 34-36 he describes in vivid 
and picturesque language the Festival of the Federa- 
tion in the Champ-de-Mars. This fete, held on July 
14th, was in celebration of the first anniversary of the 
taking of the Bastille, and it was perhaps the only 
occasion on which the dreams of the ardent Revolu- 
tionists seemed really about to be realised in a kind of 
transport of universal brotherhood. 

Paris and provincial France were to hold festival 
around the vast altar of the country in the Champ-de- 
Mars. Thousands of representatives assembled from 
all parts of the country. An army of workmen was 
busied in preparing the arena to seat this huge con- 
course, with its banked tiers of seats, but at the last 
moment it was found that even this army was in- 
sufficient for the labour in hand. 

But the work must be done somehow — let the citizens 
of Paris complete it. A kind of frenzy of enthusiasm 
seized upon the people. High and low, rich and poor, 
all hastened to the Champ-de-Mars until the great 
plain looked like an anthill. 

The work went forward merrily ; the many hands 
did indeed make it light. In that lovely summer 
weather the toil was turned into a kind of picnic, an 
occasion for rejoicing and merriment. Deputies, 
nobles, fishwives and actresses all mingled together 
with priests and students from the Colleges. Youth- 
ful, ascetic Saint-Just jostled Madame du Barry with 
her wheelbarrow — or so Camille tells us ; we may 
believe in that dramatic incident or not as we please. 

One hundred and fifty thousand volunteers working 
together with hearts and hands ; it was all very 
charming, very French, and immensely appealing to 
Camille, as we gather from his glowing description 
of this " stage ballet " — the " Reunion of the Orders," 
as he calls it. 

After all the festival itself was something of an anti- 


climax to the time o£ preparation. The weather was 
terribly bad on the great day, and it went near to 
spoiling the whole affair. 

Camille tells us how numbers of people passed the 
night on the Champ-de-Mars, how numbers more 
hastened there at daybreak. 

But the wind was icy cold and the rain fell in sheets ; 
it spoke well for the good humour of that vast crowd 
that their spirits were not entirely damped. The 
resplendent procession of King, Deputies, Churchmen 
and Nobles, with the eighty-three white banners of 
the Departments, the flags of the Districts, and the 
Oriflamme itself filed into the Champ-de-Mars in a 
downpour ; most of the ceremonies were gone through 
under pelting rain. But the people danced and 
laughed and sang, and when at about three o'clock 
the weather cleared, all discomforts were forgotten 
in spite of damp clothes and ruined decorations. 

Probably Camille himself joined in the procession 
as one of the National volunteers who formed a guard 
of honour ; we know that many journalists were 
amongst them. Possibly he was one of those who 
received the brass medal representing the Bastille, 
worn on a tricolour ribbon as a military order, which 
was presented by the Municipality to all those who 
had assisted at the taking of the fortress. 

Certainly he was present at the Festival ; certainly 
he has described it for his contemporaries and for us 
in the most glowing and enthusiastic language. 

Yet he has one complaint to make, and that is of 
the King himself. He demands why " Capet the 
Elder " did not leave his throne in the Champ-de- 
Mars empty, to represent that the sovereignty rested 
with the people. In fact all through his numbers at 
this time Camille shows scant reverence for Louis, or 
for Royalty in general. 

He tells us afterwards of the rejoicings and merry- 
makings in the Champs-Elysees and on the site of the 


Bastille, transformed into a forest of " trees of 
liberty " surmounted by Phrygian caps. 

Camille also mentions Danton in a curious and 
characteristic anecdote. The Cordeliers had held a 
banquet of their own in celebration of the Federation, 
and on this occasion Danton, already the leading 
spirit of this body, refused to drink any of the official 
toasts, save that to the health of the Fatherland. 

It is in one of these numbers which describe the 
July festivals so joyfully that Camille first shows 
that he is beginning to feel doubts as to his own 
position. He had gone rather too far, rather too 
often. Malouet, over-powerful to be disregarded, was 
preparing to denounce the rash journalist in the 
National Assembly. In Number 34 of the " Revolu- 
tions " Camille expresses his misgivings. 

" I begin to doubt whether I ought to sharpen so many 
daggers against myself, in order to enlighten ungrateful 
federals, who proposed at the Palais Royal, in my own hearing, 
that I should be hanged. I begin to doubt whether a journalist 
who has not been placed on guard by the people, but is a self- 
constituted sentinel, is obliged by his conscience to lead the 
wandering and underground life of M. Marat, It is all very 
well to jump into the gulf like Curtius when one believes that 
one's death will save one's country." 

In a letter to his father at about this period Camille 
writes in much the same strain of the dangers which 
surrounded him and which, he says, menace him 
daily, but he ends on a more heroic note. 

" Many men sell their lives to kings for five sous," he says. 
" Shall I then do nothing for the love of my country, of truth, 
of justice ? I apply to myself that verse which Achilles says 
to a soldier in Homer : ' And Patrocles, he also is dead, who 
was worth more than I ! ' " 

The list of disputes and lawsuits in which Camille 
involved himself at this time was endless. This was 
natural enough in the case of a journalist who wrote 


openly that, in his opinion : " There is an excess of 
good sense and of wisdom which one ought to avoid." 

His accusations of bribery and corruption against 
men in high places could not be suffered to pass 
unnoticed, and Crillon, Antoine Talon and Bergasse 
each in their turn demanded reparation from the over- 
bold journalist. It must be confessed that they rarely 
obtained any particular satisfaction; at the worst Camille 
was condemned at the Chatelet by default, a sentence 
which did not trouble him over-much, we may imagine. 

The Royalist journals also continued to attack him 
furiously, and with all the more spite and venom 
because their writers so seldom scored a hit against 
Camille, the agile and adroit. 

It was on the last day of July that Victor Malouet, 
in an impassioned speech, denounced Camille before 
the National Assembly. He was listened to with 
attention, for Malouet was respected as an honest 
man and a good constitutional Royalist. He protested 
that the cruellest enemies of the Constitution were 
those who wrote and spoke with a view to making the 
King and Royalty itself an object of contempt and 
scandal, who seized on the occasion of a great festival, 
at which the King had received unanimous testi- 
monies of love and loyalty, to speak of the insolence 
of the throne, of the slight to the people. 

In support of his words, Malouet then read a passage 
from Camille's paper, where the journalist spoke of 
the triumph of Paulus Emilius as a National Festival, 
because a king, in deep humiliation, followed the 
triumphal car with bound hands. 

" It is not," the orator protested, " that I wish to avenge a 
private injury. After a whole year of silence and contempt, I 
come here as the avenger of a public crime." 

Notwithstanding Malouet's asseverations of disin- 
terestedness, it is very plain, on reading the text of 
his " Complaint " against Camille addressed to the 


Criminal Lieutenant of the Chatelet of Paris, that he 
had personal as well as public injuries to avenge. 

We find it stated here that : " the life of the 
complainant has been in danger. Pursued at Ver- 
sailles, insulted at the door of the Assembly, over- 
whelmed with anonymous letters, reduced to carry 
firearms with which to defend himself, the com- 
plainant attributes all this to Camille Desmoulins." 

Malouet further adds that he judges from the 
violence of his writing, especially in No. 31 of the 
" Revolutions," that Camille is mad. He begs that 
the journalist may be seen and examined by the Physi- 
cian to the Chatelet and taken to any madhouse which 
may be decided upon, as a violent and dangerous lunatic. 

Malouet carried his point to the extent that the 
advocate to the Chatelet was instructed to prosecute 
such writings as Camille's, on the plea that it was 
treason against the nation on the part of authors, 
printers and hawkers to publish or aid to distribute 
anything which might be calculated to, in any way, 
incite the people to insurrection. 

Two days afterwards, however, on August 2nd, an 
address in defence of Camille and written by himself 
was read in the Assembly. In this he complained 
that the treasonable number of his journal had not 
been publicly read by his accuser. 

Camille was present, as he tells us, on this occasion, 
in his very best ruffled shirt, in order that he might 
make a good impression if he was forced to appear 
at the bar of the Assembly. When Malouet challenged 
the journalist to speak for himself, in his own defence, 
he did so, rather unexpectedly. But Camille vi^as no 
more eloquent than usual on this occasion, and he 
was soon howled down. 

It would probably have gone hardly with him, and 
he expected, as he says, that he would most certainly 
have been arrested had it not been for the interven- 
tion of " my dear Robespierre." 


Camille himself describes his escape in light and 
jeering fashion, although there is little doubt that, 
at the time, he fully realised his danger, and did not 
look upon it as hy any means a joke. 

" It was half-past eleven," he says. " Mirabeau-Tonneau 
was tormented with the wish to moisten his dry gullet, and I 
was indebted for the silence which Camus obtained less to the 
president's bell than to the official bell which called the 
aristocrats and the ministerialists to supper. They at once 
abandoned the field of battle ; I was led out in triumph ; and 
scarcely had I tasted a little repose before a chorus of patriotic 
news-vendors came to arouse me with the sound of my own 
name, and cried under my windows : ' Great Confusion of 
Malouet ! Great Victory of Camille Desmoulins ! ' " 

As a matter of fact the result of the whole affair was 
that, on Petion's motion supported by Alexandre de 
Lameth, the Assembly decreed that there should be 
no prosecution for anything published up to that 
time. The only work excepted from this amnesty 
was Marat's pamphlet, " C'en est fait de nous." 

It is said that a National Guard, on hearing of 
Camille's acquittal, proclaimed that if he met the 
journalist he would cut open his head with his sword. 
Camille's comment is characteristic. " That man," he 
remarks in his journal, " evidently does not like a joke." 

Camille certainly was lucky in escaping with a whole 
skin on this and other occasions. 

He received, in common with most of the other 
leading Revolutionaries, constant challenges from the 
fiery Uttle band of Royalists, whom their opponents 
styled " assassinateurs " or " spadassinicides." 

These men, fine swordsmen all, associated them- 
selves together with the avowed aim of provoking 
duels with the popular leaders, and by this means, if 
possible, abruptly terminating their careers. These 
Royalist champions were, as a rule, noblemen, accus- 
tomed since boyhood to the use of the sword. The 
men whom they tried to drive by insults and open 


challenges to fight, were commonly, like Camille, of 
the bourgeois class and consequently quite unused 
to the " gentlemanly " method of settling disputes, a 
fact which, no doubt, encouraged their opponents to 
expect an easy task. 

But the Court gentlemen did not reckon on the fact 
that these adversaries of theirs were totally devoid 
of what they considered honourable feelings. These 
lawyers and journalists of the Third Estate thought it 
no disgrace to refuse to fight, in spite of insults, and 
consequently the tactics of the " assassinateurs " were 
as a rule, unsuccessful. 

As to Camille's own attitude with regard to the 
matter, we are able to give it expression in words 
which he is reported, on good authority, to have used. 
In No. 42 of the " Revolutions de France," the 
journalist very grossly insulted a Royalist actor, one 
Dessessarts, a good-natured, harmless fellow enough. 
He was exceedingly stout, and, apropos of this, Camille 
utilised a cruel story, which might well stick to its 
victim, making him ridiculous for the rest of his life. 
The actor was very naturally enraged, and, happen- 
ing to encounter Camille a few days later, at the Swiss 
Restaurant in the Luxembourg, promptly challenged 
him to a duel. It must be confessed that it is only in 
his answer to Dessessarts that Camille appears to any 
advantage in this affair. He absolutely refused to 
fight, saying : — 

" It will be by continuing to harass the Black party and the 
ministerialists that I shall revenge myself. I might pass my 
whole Hfe at the Bois de Boulogne, if I were obliged to give 
satisfaction to everybody who takes offence at my plain- 
speaking. Let them accuse me of cowardice if they like. 
Have patience — I fear the time is not far off when we shall have 
opportunities of dying more usefully and gloriously." 

In the autumn of 1790 Camille's greatest friend and 
rival amongst contemporary journalists, Loustalot, 


editor of the " Revolutions de Paris," died suddenly, 
it is said of grief at the news of the massacre of the 
Swiss Guards at Nancy. 

There is an earnestness and a sense of conviction 
in this man's writings for which we seek in vain in the 
most part of Camille's earlier work. Loustalot, as a 
journalist, took himself and his readers very seriously. 
As Eugene Despois says, comparing the two men: " To 
appreciate Loustalot, it is sufficient to be a patriot, to 
know how to read and to have good sense ; these condi- 
tions alone do not enable one to enjoy Desmoulins." 

Loustalot's good faith and honesty were undoubted ; 
his popularity was immense, and it is said that before 
his early death he could count on two hundred 
thousand readers. Camille, with that frank generosity 
which he always displayed towards the writers of his 
party, said that he " was the journalist who has best 
served the Republic." 

It is certain that Loustalot was one of the best and 
purest type of Revolutionary, free from the stigma of 
inciting to bloodshed, although his bitterness could 
lead Saint-Jean-d'Angely to say, on hearing of his 
death : " Ah, then, he has sucked his own pen." 

It was Camille who delivered the funeral oration of 
the dead journalist at the Jacobin Club, where his obse- 
quies were celebrated for three days. On this occasion 
he seems to have spoken, for once, effectively and well. 

" Loustalot," he said, " always despised the enemies who 
tried to defame him. He could not understand the baseness 
of those journalists who, instead of calling men to liberty and 
equality, do not hesitate to serve the aristocrats, whom they 
despise, for the sake of a Httle money, and defame those 
writers whom they cannot but esteem, in order to please their 
masters. Such men as these debase liberation and talent to 
the level of domestic servitude." 

In justice to Camille, it must be said that, like 
Loustalot, he was not one of " such men as these." 


IN spite of lawsuits and Royalist challenges this 
winter of 1790 and the year which followed 
was by far the happiest period of Camille's life. 
He had certainly made plenty of enemies, 
but, nevertheless, he was successful, praised and 
flattered. Moreover, though not by any means rich, 
he was in more comfortable circumstances than he 
had ever been before. Above all, it was in December 
of this year that Camille at last gained the desire of his 

The wind was to blow softly from the west for a 
short time at least, and the weather-cock turned at 
the gentle touch. It did not last very long, this 
happiness of Camille's, but for those few months he 
felt, and constantly repeated, that there was nothing 
left on earth for him to desire. 

We have seen the gradual growth of the love 
between Camille Desmoulins and Lucile Duplessis. 
It was no sudden, transitory passion, but something 
which had taken long to arrive at perfection, which had 
been at once a torment and an ecstasy, at least as far 
as the man was concerned. 

Camille had watched Lucile grow from a beautiful 
child into a still more beautiful girl — watched her, 
scarcely daring to hope that some day he might win her 
for his own. 

Now she was twenty years old, a woman with a 
woman's mind and will, in spite of her fragile and 
childish appearance. As to her loveliness there is no un- 
certainty. All the writers of that day who mention 



Lucile Desmoulins speak of her beauty with enthusi- 
asm. Jules Claretie, who had himself heard her 
appearance described hy eye-witnesses, says that " she 
was of small stature, and very graceful, with beautiful 
fair hair, like a portrait by Greuze." 

A contemporary writer, one Moreau de Jonnes, tells 
us also that " she was an adorable little blonde," 
but it appears that although her hair and complexion 
were strikingly fair, Lucile had dark eyes. Her own 
mother said of her that " her eyes were not blue, but 
black, like her father's." 

Yet, on the whole, perhaps one likes Camille's own 
half-shy compliment to his wife the best of all. He 
was asked by Mademoiselle Ste. Amaranthe, herself 
acknowledged to be one of the most lovely women of 
her day, whether Lucile were not very pretty. " Made- 
V moiselle," he is said to have answered, " she would be 

^^v beautiful even by the side of you." 

Probably Lucile Desmoulins' best-known portrait 
is that by Boilly in the Musee Carnavelet. This, and 
other existing pictures, certainly represent her as 
charmingly pretty, but, judging only by these, one 
might imagine that Camille's wife was of the wax- 
doll type in body and mind. Nothing could be 
further from the truth. Lucile proved again and again 
that she possessed character, and character of a very 
distinct and definite quality. We have already seen 
something of what she was as a wilful, charming girl, 
indulged by her parents and full of immature dreams 
and fancies. Under the strain and stress of her bitter- 
sweet married life, Lucile was to develop quickly. 
There was a strong soul and a brave spirit in that 
dainty Dresden-china girl, who, at first sight, would 
seem to need a landscape by Watteau as her fittest 

Camille had waited full seven years for his Rachel : 
at last his patience was to be rewarded. 

Very gradually M. Duplessis' opinions had changed, 


or rather they had been modified. Perhaps the 
fidehty of the young man touched him ; more probably 
Camille's ever-growing popularity was not without its 

At the outset of the Revolution, in spite of his 
sudden leap into fame, the journalist had been in a 
minority and, as such, was no desirable son-in-law for 
an honest, respectable burgess, however broad-minded 
and liberal of view. But during this year of 1790 
things had altered. Camille had been the editor of a 
thriving journal for twelve months. Moreover, the 
Revolution had become, in a measure, fashionable ; it 
was the correct thing nowadays to be rather advanced, 
to wear brooches and breast-pins made from the stones 
of the Bastille, and to talk of Liberty, Equality and 
Fraternity with large capitals. Why, the King 
himself had taken the oath upon the altar of the 
Fatherland in the Champ-de-Mars, and at present 
men had no reason to doubt that he intended to 
keep it faithfully. 

M. Duplessis began to think that perhaps Camille 
Desmoulins, this firebrand of a politician, might not be 
so objectionable a connection after all. It would be 
rather pleasant to be related to a man who was spoken 
of as the most rising journalist of the day, now that 
Loustalot was dead. 

As to Madame Duplessis, we may be quite sure that 
she did all in her power to further the match. Her 
sympathy had always been with the lovers. 

And Lucile ? Her feelings are plainly revealed in a 
letter written by her to Camille, but never sent to its 
destination. It is published by M. Claretie, and one 
cannot resist quoting from it, although it seems almost 
sacrilege to do so. Yet nothing else can show us so 
plainly the limitless love which filled the girl's heart. 

" Oh, thou who art in the depth of my being, thou whom 
I dare not love, or rather whom I dare not say that I love ; 
thou believest me insensible ! Oh, cruel one, dost thou judge 


me after thine own heart ? And could that heart attach 
itself to a being without feeling ? Ah, well, yes — it is better 
that I suffer, it is better that you should forget me. Oh, God, 
judge by that of my courage, which of us two has the most to 
suffer ; I dare not confess to myself what I feel for thee ; I 
strive only to hide it from my own knowledge. Thou sufferest, 
sayest thou ? Oh, I suffer more ; thine image is incessantly 
present to my mind ; it never quits me. I look for thy faults ; 
I find them and I love them. Tell me then, why does all this 
strife exist ? Why do I love to make a mystery of it even to 
my mother ? I wish that she should know it, that she should 
divine it, but I would not tell it to her myself." 

So it came to pass that on December nth, 1790, M. 
Duplessis at last gave his consent to the betrothal. 
Camille could not believe in his good fortune ; he had 
scarcely dared to hope that this joy would ever be his. 
His own tender words will best describe that first 
interview with Lucile as her affianced husband. It is 
a letter written to his father on the same day which 
contains the passage : — 

"To-day, the eleventh of December, you see me at last 
at the summit of my desires. My happiness has lingered for 
long, but at last it has come and I am as happy as one can 
possibly be on earth. That charming Lucile, of whom I have 
so often spoken to you and whom I have loved for eight years, 
has at last been given to me by her parents, and she herself 
does not refuse me. 

" Just now her mother came to tell me the news, weeping 
with joy : the inequality of fortune, for M, Duplessis has an 
income of 20,000 livres a year, has so far delayed our happiness ; 
her father was tempted by the offers that were made to him. 
He dismissed a suitor who came with 100,000 francs ; Lucile, 
who had already refused 25,000 livres, had no difficulty in 
rejecting him. You will understand her character by this 
single trait. 

" Directly after her mother had given her to me, she led 
me to her chamber ; I threw myself at Lucile's feet. Surprised 
to hear her laugh I lifted my eyes ; hers were in no better a 
state than mine. She was all in tears ; she wept abundantly, 
although she laughed at the same time. Never have I seen 


such a charming sight, and I could not have imagined that 
nature and sensibiHty could join these two contrasting feelings 
in such a way." 

Camille goes on to tell his father with distinct pride 
that Lucile will bring him a dowry of 100,000 francs, 
and. that M. Duplessis also intends to bestow half of 
his plate upon the young couple, to the value of 
10,000 francs. 

In this same letter Camille announces that he 
wishes to be married in eight days' time, and implores 
his father to send his consent at once, by return of 
post. As M. Desmoulins did not reply immediatel)^ 
the young man writes again in feverish impatience 
on the 1 8th and 20th of the month, reminding his 
father that he is counting the minutes until his 
marriage can take place. 

And, after all, the delay was entirely Camille's own 
fault. In his hurry and excitement he had forgotten 
to send his father Lucile's full name and that of her 
father and mother, all of which was necessary in order 
that M. Duplessis' consent might be made out in 
the proper legal form. 

However, it was all put right, at the cost of a little 
delay. M. and Madame Desmoulins were overjoyed 
at the happiness of their son, and sent affectionate 
messages to Lucile and her parents, together with their 
formal consent. 

Nevertheless, all the obstacles in Camille's path were 
not yet overcome. The date of the wedding had been 
fixed for December 29th, but it is a proof of how 
strong religious feeling yet was in France that, since 
the season was Advent, it was necessary to procure a 
dispensation before the ceremony could take place. 
Camille was not in high favour with the Church, as 
may be imagined, and it was only through the 
intervention of the Abbe Berardier, his old school- 
master, that this dispensation was at last forthcoming. 

It was the wish of Berardier, moreover, to marry 


this favourite pupil of his, and M. de Pancemont, 
cure of St. Sulpice, was persuaded to allow this, and 
himself only to assist on the occasion. But this same 
M. de Pancemont was determined to have his own 
way in other respects. Free-thinking, free-speaking 
Camille was, in a measure, at his mercy, and the priest 
positively refused to allow the wedding to take place 
unless the journalist made a public profession of faith 
in the Catholic religion. 

This M. de Pancemont could not obtain in so many 
words ; he was obliged to be content with Camille's 
rather hesitating answer to his assertion that, if he 
were not a Catholic, he could not confer upon him a 
sacrament of that religion. 

" Well, then, yes," said Camille, " if that be the 
case, I am a Catholic." 

Two further concessions the priest did obtain, 
after subjecting the journalist to a catechism which 
that young gentleman managed to wriggle through, 
although scarcely with flying colours. He made 
Camille promise to retract his heretical opinions in 
the next number of his paper — a promise which, by 
the way, the journalist never performed. M. de 
Pancement also exacted that the young man should 
make his confession before the wedding ceremony, 
and we know from the testimony of Madame Duplessis 
herself that in this respect Camille kept his word. 

Writing some years afterwards, Lucile's mother 
said : — 

" It was I who drove Camille and Lucile in my carriage, a 
few days before their marriage, to the Cordeliers, where a 
Father confessed them, one after the other — first of all 
Camille, and then Lucile, who awaited her turn at the other 
side of the Confessional, They confessed with such confidence 
and ingenuousness that I could hear everything." 

And so, the way being plain and all obstacles 
removed, Camille and Lucile were married on Decem- 
ber 29th at the Church of St. Sulpice, 


It must have pleased the bridegroom's boyish 
vanity to see how the citizens of Paris crowded round 
the doors of the church to watch the wedding pro- 
cession of their favourite writer. It was what we 
should call now a fashionable ceremony. One can 
imagine how the people nudged each other and then 
broke into cheers when they saw such famous guests as 
Sillery, Mercier, Jerome Petion, Brissot de Warville 
and, above all, Maximilian Robespierre enter the 

It is easy to picture Camille, hastening to meet his 
bride, his queer, ugly face radiant and transfigured 
with happiness, wearing " a white waistcoat, worked 
with flowers." 

As to Lucile, one can almost feel the stir of admira- 
tion which moved the crowd, as she passed up the 
aisle on her father's arm, dressed in her wedding veil, 
and a pink satin dress, with narrow sleeves and little 
basques. That wedding dress and Camille's gorgeous 
waistcoat are still preserved, as M. Lenotre tells us, at 
Laon, together with a silk garter worn by Lucile on 
this, the greatest day of her life, and embroidered 
with forget-me-nots and joined hands, surrounding 
the motto : " Unisson-nous-pour-la-vie." 

Emotional Camille was very deeply moved by the 
marriage service. He writes to his father : — 

" Berardier pronounced before the celebration a touching 
discourse, which made us both weep, Lucile and I. We were 
not the only ones to be affected ; everybody around us had tears 
in their eyes." 

" Cry, if you want to cry," Robespierre is said to 
have whispered at sight of these tears of Camille's, 
as he and Mercier stood holding the canopy over the 
bridal pair. 

After the ceremony was over the whole party made 
their way along the Rue de Conde to Camille's 
apartments, on the third floor of No. i Rue de 


Theatre Frangais, where the wedding breakfast was 

Eleven persons were gathered about that large 
round mahogany table, which still exists, a silent 
witness of what must have been a merry, innocent 
festivity enough. Besides Camille and Lucile and 
M. and Madame Duplessis, Lucile's sister Adele, 
whom at this time Robespierre is said to have admired, 
was present, together with Robespierre himself, 
Berardier, Mercier, Petion, Sillery and Brissot. 

Probably the occasion passed in much the same 
fashion as other wedding breakfasts before and since. 
Doubtless there were speeches from one and another ; 
we can fancy Camille, more or less incoherent, his 
stammer very marked in his nervous excitement. 
We can also imagine that Robespierre, the principal 
guest, proposed the health of the bride and bride- 
groom in careful, well-chosen language. 

On the face of it, all was very peaceful, very pleasant 
— very ordinary, in short — but under the light comedy 
of Camille's wedding there lies a deep vein of tragedy. 
It is only necessary to read through the names of 
the witnesses to the ceremony, one by one, names well 
known then, and since underlined deeply on the pages 
of history. It is said that the worthy vicar of St. 
Sulpice, Gueudeville, was terror-struck at the sight 
of these signatures, already so famous, or infamous. 

After the names of Camille, Lucile, and M. and 
Madame Duplessis, comes that of Jerome Petion — 
handsome, honest, conceited, rather stupid Petion, 
most popular of popular idols, soon to be Mayor of 
Paris, soon to think himself admired by Elizabeth of 
France herself. 

Petion was now one of the most advanced of 
Revolutionaries, but in a few short years he will be 
considered a reactionary ; as a Girondin he will be 
hunted through France, never so worthy of admiration 
as in his brave, simple cheerfulness during that terrible 


flight. He was destined to lie at last, starved and worn- 
out, amongst the stubble of a corn-field, his body- 
torn and devoured hy the dogs of the village — and he 
was to owe that death in some measure to Camille 
Desmoulins, once his friend. 

The next important signature is written in a neat, 
careful hand. It is that of Maximilian-Marie-Isidore 
Robespierre. Camille considered, and with reason, 
that he owed much to " my dear Robespierre." Had 
not the great Maximilian saved him when the rash 
journalist was almost undone hy Malouet's eloquence, 
only a few months before ? Many of the numbers of 
Camille's paper at this time were directly inspired by 
Robespierre ; as far as was compatible with their 
respective natures, they were intimate friends. 

Camille was to be indebted to Robespierre in a far 
different sense some three years later. He was to owe 
to that same dear friend his arrest, and his death. 

Following Robespierre's name comes that of 
Mercier, one of the few amongst the signatories who 
was to outlive the Revolution, and to write later his 
recollections of those days. 

And here is the signature of Brissot, Jean Brissot de 
Warville, deputy to the National Assembly. Brissot 
was one of the foremost journalists of the day. His 
paper, the " Patriote Frangais," was at the same time 
the bitterest and the most unswerving in its steady, 
cold patriotism. He was a Republican almost as soon 
as Camille himself, and only less daring than the 
younger man in the expression of his views. 

Yet, not much more than two years later, Brissot 
and his party were to be the victims of the worst act of 
Camille's life. He was to send the man who had been 
his intimate friend to death, by means of a scurrilous 
pamphlet, and to realise, too late, that it was he, 
Camille, who had killed Brissot, and with him the men 
who might have saved France from the anarchy which 


Read by the light o£ later events, it is a tragic 
document, this marriage contract between Lucie- 
Simplice-Camille-Benoist Desmoulins, journalist and 
man of letters, aged thirty, and Anne-Lucile-Philippe- 
Laridon Duplessis, aged twenty. 

But at present Camille's happiness was unclouded. 
He writes to his father on January 3rd a letter full of 
joyous pride. 

" All agree," he says, " in admiring my wife, as 
perfectly beautiful, and I assure you that this beauty 
is her least merit." 

Finally he signs himself : " Votre fils, Camille 
Desmoulins, le plus heureux des hommes, et qui ne 
desire plus rien au monde." 

Camille and Lucile spent their honeymoon at 
Bourg-la-Reine. Madame Duplessis had a small 
property there, a little farm-house called Clos-Payen, 
situated on the right-hand side of the road from Paris, 
just at the entrance to the village. 

M. Lenotre sought out the house in recent years, 
and describes it to us as it is now, and as it was in those 
days when Camille brought thither his young bride. 

It is a picturesque old farm, such as are common 
throughout France. The courtyard, round which the 
buildings cluster, is entered through a gateway, whose 
door-posts are surmounted by large stone balls. In 
this courtyard is an old well, shaded by a walnut tree. 

The house possessed a large garden, shaded by trees, 
and bordered by a double row of lindens, and in the 
northernmost corner of the estate, connected with 
the main building by a foot-path, was a little stone 
cottage, which had been built especially for Camille 
and Lucile. This tiny house was given to them by 
Madame Duplessis, and here they spent not only their 
honeymoon, but also days and even weeks together 
during the next eighteen months. 

Here I^ucile held a kind of little salon, of a sort 
peculiar to herself ; here the two lived the simple life, 


as we should call it now, in the style of Rousseau and 
Bernardin de St. Pierre. A small circle of friends 
visited Bourg-la-Reine from time to time, most of 
them young and probably all the more joyous and 
irresponsible because they had escaped from Paris for 
a time, from Paris, which was now so grim, so deadly 
in earnest. 

Madame Duplessis spent much time with her 
daughter and son-in-law, and Camille always speaks of 
her with the greatest affection — their dear " Daronne " 
or " Melpomene," as the coterie at Bourg-la-Reine 
called her. 

They all had nicknames ; it was part of the game 
which they loved to play when they were together. 
Lucile was turn by turn " The indefinable being," 
"Lolotte," "Loup," "Rouleau," or "the Cachan 
Hen," names meaningless enough to us, who can only 
guess at their associations, and the little intimate 
stories connected with them. 

Camille himself was " Bouli-Boula," " loup-loup," 
or, more usually, " M. Hon " in allusion to his 
stammer. Amongst their other friends, Brune, after- 
wards Marshal of France under the Empire, was 
" Paragon," Duplain " Saturn," and Stanislas Freron, 
Camille's sub-editor, was " Lapin." 

It was Freron who, of all the little circle, was most 
intimate with his young host and hostess. In common 
with most of the men who knew her, he almost 
idolised pretty Lucile ; perhaps he loved her better 
than he or she knew. 

It is from a letter written by him at Toulon later, 
when Camille was demanding the " Committee 
of Clemency," that we gain the best idea of 
that charming, idyllic life at Bourg-la-Reine. Freron 
has been warning Camille against letting his imagina- 
tion run away with him, his philanthropy blind him — 
this Committee of his would be a triumph for the 
anti-revolutionaries. Then the writer pauses and lets 


his memory stray back to Bourg-la-Reine, and to the 
old happy days which he had spent there. 

He recalls : " the thyme and wild herbs with which 
Madame Desmoulins' pretty dimpled hands had fed 
him." He lingers tenderly over a charming picture of 
Lucile : " trotting about in her room, gliding over 
the polished floor, sitting for a moment at her piano, 
and whole hours in an easy chair, dreaming, giving the 
reins to her imagination, then making the coffee with 
a filtering bag, behaving like a sprite, and showing her 
teeth like a cat." 

This letter, in a few words, brings Lucile before us, 
as no amount of elaborate description could do, with 
all her inconsequent charm. 

Amidst the misery and turmoil of Toulon under the 
rule of the Terror, a rule for which he himself was 
responsible, it is strange and incongruous to read how 
Freron's thoughts turned to his low-ceiled bedroom 
at Bourg-la-Reine, where the tired journalist rested 
after his week of drudgery in Paris. We see, in the 
glass of Freron's memory, Camille's happy face as he 
leans in over the window-sill, mocking at his friend's 
slothfulness, we catch the echo of Lucile's favourite 
phrase : " What does that matter to me ? It's as 
clear as day." 

So the happy innocent days sped by ; days which 
developed all that was best in Camille's nature. As 
Chateaubriand said : " A young and charming woman 
in awakening Desmoulins' heart to love, made him 
capable of virtue and sacrifice." 

Little Camille cared that his admirers in Paris were 
openly disappointed in their favourite journalist. 
They missed his gay raillery, his bitter jests : a 
versifier wrote to him, parodying the warning sent to 
Brutus : " Tu dors, Camille, et Paris est esclave." 

Camille was troubled by none of these things. He 
was happy, and, that being so, he had forgotten for 
the moment to be cruel even in jest. It was at this 


time, early in 1791, that he declared his belief that the 
end of the Revolution was at hand. He publicly 
announced his intention of giving up journalism 
and resuming his work at the Bar, so that he might 
live quietly with Lucile — " to make a good husband," 
as he quaintly expressed it. This was one of those 
resolutions which are only made to be broken. 

Once a writer, always a writer, at least as far as 
Camille was concerned. He could not so lightly 
abandon that which was his very life. 

After a honeymoon which, we may be sure, seemed 
only too brief to both of them, Lucile and Camille 
returned to Paris, to play at housekeeping in their 
own little home in the Rue de Theatre Fran9ais. 
Here they had for neighbours, on the second floor of 
No. 22 Rue de Conde, the Duplessis family, and for 
housemates on the second floor of their own building, 
M. and Madame Danton. 

Hitherto Danton has not appeared in any very 
intimate connection with Camille, and it is rather 
difficult to say precisely when their real friendship 
began. Considerably later, in a letter of April 3rd, 
1792, Camille mentions Danton to his father as " an 
old college comrade, who, while hating his (Camille's) 
opinions, does not extend his hatred to the man 

It is true that Carlyle draws on his imagination 
to the extent of making Danton and Camille appear 
as intimate friends at such an early date as the opening 
of the States-General in 1789. But although his 
description of the two men, who, it will be remem- 
bered, he represents as watching the procession 
together, is dramatic and striking, it is very certain 
that he had little or no authority for so connecting 

It seems probable that Camille and Danton were 
acquaintances very likely from their college days, but 
that they did not become in any sense friends until 


they were living in the same house and, therefore, 
naturally thrown together to a much greater extent. 

Be that as it may, from the beginning of 1791 
onwards there can be no doubt that Danton exercised 
a very great influence over Camille. Michelet 
has even gone so far as to describe the younger 
man as " a flower which grew upon Danton." It was 
the natural influence of a strong nature over one 
which was essentially weak in fibre. Camille, in spite 
of the boldness and originality of his pen, was, through- 
out his career, always more or less under the ascendancy 
of others. At first it was Mirabeau whose personality 
dominated the young man, later Danton's influence 
succeeded to that of his great prototype. Always, up 
to nearly the end, Camille accepted the guidance of 
Robespierre, that man of unswerving principles and 
cut-and-dried rules of conduct, who used the brilliant 
journalist as his catspaw, and finally, like the moral 
coward that he was, left Camille to his fate, rather 
than betray, possibly to his own undoing, his sympathy 
with the policy which inspired the " Vieux Cordelier." 

Camille had one trouble in these early days of his 
married life which resulted directly from his great 
happiness. We have seen how from the time of his 
first entry into journalism, the young man found 
himself engaged in an incessant warfare with his rivals 
of the opposite camp of thought, a warfare in which 
the advantage of skill decidedly rested with Camille. 

This very fact only served to make his adversaries 
the more bitter and vindictive, and the marriage of 
the Republican journalist was made by them the 
occasion for a fresh outburst of calumnies, directed 
this time not so much against Camille himself as 
against his wife. 

It was a vile weapon, this which the Royalist 
writers used, but one unfortunately very typical of the 
newspaper warfare of that time. It is impossible to 
tell who invented the abominable scandal, but certain 


it is that journal after journal repeated with variations 
more or less discreditable that Lucile Desmoulins was 
the illegitimate daughter of the Abbe Terray. Even 
worse things were hinted at, but these one need not 
mention here. 

Of course, the lie was absolutely unfounded. 
Camille, in the letter to his father on January 3rd, 
stigmatises it as " utter nonsense," and careful research 
only serves to verify the truth of this assertion. But, 
nevertheless, it is plain that the young husband was 
deeply wounded when the libel was reprinted again 
and again, by the " Journal de la Cour et de la Ville," 
by Peltier in the " Actes des Apotres," by Retif de la 
Bretonne and others. Indeed, Camille wished to 
institute proceedings against the " Journal de la Cour 
et de la Ville," but, as he tells his father, the Duplessis 
persuaded him to treat such shameless falsehoods with 
contempt. " This respectable family," he says, " only 
laugh at the calumnies of these infamous aristocrats, 
and have counselled me to despise them." 

Camille could indeed afford to do so. The love 
between himself and his wife was too deep-rooted and 
sacred a thing to be affected by such spiteful breezes 
as these. 


THE first six months of 1791 were not only 
peaceful and undisturbed as far as Camille's 
private life was concerned, it was also a 
more or less uneventful period for Paris 
and for the whole of France. 

The Assembly and the people in general had not yet 
lost trust in the King ; the rude awakening of the 
flight to Varennes was still to come. They believed 
more or less in Louis' personal good faith, if not in 
that of the Queen and his other advisers. Those who 
were optimistically inclined began to believe that a 
system of government might indeed be established on 
somewhat the same lines as the English constitution. 

The Republican party kept quiet, at least in public ; 
they really had no opportunity to do otherwise. True, 
there were some few journalists, amongst whom 
Camille was prominent, who still voiced their opinions 
loudly, but even he is distinctly milder during this 

Meanwhile the Royalists were working silently, but 
deliberately. They made their plans and only waited 
for an opportunity to carry them into practice. There 
is not a particle of evidence to show that the King 
ever intended to keep faith with the Assembly and the 
people. Later investigations go rather to prove that, 
all this time, whilst outwardly conforming to the 
constitution, he was intriguing with the Austrian 
Emperor and the " emigres." 

The Court sought right and left for members of 
the popular party whom they might corrupt and bring 



over to their side. They found a mighty tool to their 
hand in Mirabeau. 

There is no doubt that for some months before his 
death the great Tribune was the paid servant of the 
King and Queen, using all his vast powers for their 
interests. Yet it is scarcely fair to say that his principles 
were corrupted. Mirabeau was never anything but a 
monarchist in theory and in speech. He never wished 
that the King might be dethroned ; he required only 
that he should reign constitutionally. 

This being so, it was not an act of treason in 
Mirabeau to use his best endeavours to prop up the 
falling monarchy. Of course, it would be useless to 
pretend that his personal ambitions were not involved. 
He longed to be all-powerful himself, but as a prime 
minister, not as a Cromwell. 

The leaders of the advanced party made no allow- 
ances. Mirabeau had been their idol, their greatest 
orator, their strongest support. Now he had failed 
them ; he spoke and worked, almost openly, on the 
side of the Court. They called him " Traitor " in no 
uncertain terms. The newsboys cried in the streets, 
outside the very hall of the Assembly, of the " Great 
treason of Mirabeau," their sheets were thrust in his 
face when he left the sessions, he was hissed as often 
as he was applauded when he rose to speak. 

It was on February 28th that Mirabeau made his 
last great bid for popularity, and with partial success. 
That afternoon in the Assembly, during a debate on 
the question of the " emigres," he vehemently 
opposed the proposal to make any laws against emigra- 
tion. This was the opportunity for which the " Left " 
or extremists had waited. Led by Barnave and 
Lameth, they raised a tumult of hisses and interrup- 

But once again and almost for the last time Mirabeau 
dominated the Assembly by the sheer weight of his 
personality. In a fury he swung round upon the men 


who would have shouted him down, and quelled 
them with the famous phrase, thundered out in that 
great roar of his : " Silence, those thirty voices 1 " 

They were silent — for the moment, but at the 
Jacobins that night the malcontents proclaimed their 
anger and their wrongs loudly and at length. 

Yet Mirabeau was not the man who would let the 
opportunity pass to follow up an advantage. He also 
presented himself at the Jacobins, and confronted the 
fury of the Lameths and Duport. Once again he was 
victorious, at least according to almost all accounts, 
and finally descended from the tribune amidst 
thunders of applause. 

We are bound to confess that Camille gives a rather 
different version of the affair. If we may trust him, 
Mirabeau was visibly abashed before the attacks of 
Lameth and his supporters. Camille, in fact, in a 
metaphor which he can scarcely have realised was 
really the highest of praise, compared Mirabeau to a 
new Christ on a new Calvary. 

However, on this occasion, as on many others, it is 
impossible to accept implicitly Camille's authority. 
In this connection we cannot do better than quote 
Mr. J. H. McCarthy's very just estimate of the 
journalist's veracity. 

" It would be absurd," he says, " to take Camille Desmoulins 
seriously or to rely seriously on his account of any event. He 
was above all things emotional, sensitive to the impressions of 
the hour ; he cannot be gravely credited with opinions of his 
own ; he was the prey of impulses, the sport of passions, a 
fascinating child." 

Moreover, where Mirabeau is concerned Camille 
was biassed. He was now one of the foremost accusers 
of the great man, he who had once loved Mirabeau 
" as a mistress." 

Nevertheless, in this case it would not be just to 
accuse the journalist of inconstancy. In his own 


phrase, it was the wind that had changed, and not the 
weathercock. From Camille's point of view Mirabeau 
was indeed a traitor, but it is undeniable that a certain 
amount of private bitterness affected his attitude 
towards his one-time friend. Mirabeau had never 
taken his young protege sufficiently seriously, and 
Camille longed to show him that he was a force to be 
reckoned with. 

Not that Mirabeau had ever appeared to underrate 
Camille's powers as a journalist ; he knew too well the 
growing importance of the Press. There may be a 
certain amount of exaggeration in the assertions made 
by Camille a little later in a letter to Brissot, but it is 
equally probable that they contain a great deal of 

" His friends know how much he [Mirabeau] dreaded my 
censure," he says, " which was read by Marseilles and which 
will be read by posterity. It is well known that more than once 
he sent his secretary from a distance of two leagues to entreat 
me to withdraw a page of what I had written ; to make this 
sacrifice to friendship, to his great past services, and to the 
hope of those in the future. Say then whether I sold myself 
to Mirabeau ? I did not know that traitors, immensely 
inferior to him in talent, and but recently listened to from the 
tribune, were about to lead us to the ruin of our liberty far 
more treacherously than he ; and that they would force me to 
implore pardon from his great shade and daily to mourn the 
loss to France of her resources in his genius, and the loss to 
liberty of his love of glory." 

This was written when a reaction had set in where 
Camille's feelings towards Mirabeau were concerned. 
He had had time to realise the worth of the great man 
who was dead, to see his services to his country in their 
true perspective, to know how much the poorer France 
was for his loss. 

It is fruitless to theorise here for the hundredth 
time as to what would have been the effect upon 
history if Mirabeau had lived. It is possible that he 


might have been able, by the power of his single arm, 
to save the monarchy. Again, it is possible that he 
might have failed and paid for his failure with his^ 
life, like so many of those successors of his who seemed 
in their day to be almost as great as he. 

But apart from theories the bare fact remains that 
Mirabeau died on the second day of April, 1791, at 
the very time when he seemed most needful, most in- 
dispensable to the King, the Monarchy, France itself. 

He had been failing in health all through the early 
spring. He was worn out in body and soul, though his 
brain and his mind were as keen and active as ever, 
almost to the end. Past hardships and present excesses 
overwhelmed him ; he was, as Carlyle expresses it, 
burnt out. 

There came a day when he made his last speech in 
the Assembly, a speech which was an act of service to 
a friend, the banker, de la Marck. He returned to his 
own house to die. 

Much has been written of that death, dramatic and 
theatrical as his life, yet not, for that reason, necessarily 
insincere. It was Mirabeau's nature to play a part ; 
simpUcity in him would have been in itself an affecta- 
tion. Wrung with agony as he was, he prayed to be 
surrounded with flowers, to be bathed in perfumes. 
He spoke to his friends in high-sounding phrases, 
until pain overmastered him, and he could ask for 
nothing more save sleep. 

He was conscious of his own greatness. Like Dan- 
ton, who, knowingly or unknowingly, echoed his very 
words, he spoke of his head as being " worth supporting 
carefully." And so Mirabeau died, surrounded by his 
friends, who mourned for him in all sincerity. 

Paris was dumb beneath the shock. There had been 
no popular expectation of the great Tribune's death. 
All their indignation against this idol of theirs was 
forgotten by the people. They could only remember 
that Mirabeau was dead. 


While he lay dying, crowds stood silently around the 
house, waiting to hear the latest news. When he had 
passed away, men, meeting each other in the streets, 
accounted for their undisguised tears by the mere 
words that : " Mirabeau was dead." On the day of 
his funeral, every shop was closed, all Paris put on 
mourning attire to follow him by thousands to the 

Camille Desmoulins was not numbered amongst the 
friends who stood by the bedside of the dying Mira- 
beau. Amidst the paeans of praise which rose to the 
memory of the dead man, Camille's voice was dumb. 

It may be attributed to the journalist's horror of 
being accused of inconsistency that he would not 
write, even now, in praise of him who, rightly or 
wrongly, he believed to have betrayed his country. He 
even reproved the people, in terms which seem unduly 
bitter, for their adulation of the dead Tribune. He 
will scarcely even allow him eminence as an orator. 

" Mirabeau was eloquent, but he reigned in the tribune 
rather by his talent as an actor than by the power of his 

Words which must be allowed to contain a certain 
amount of truth, when we consider how dull and 
lifeless Mirabeau's speeches appear read now in cold 
print, unanimated by the personality of the orator. 

In another passage Camille is far more bitter and 

" Go then, O corrupt nation," he cries, " O stupid people, 
and prostrate yourself before the tomb of this honest man, the 
Mercury of his age, and the god of orators, liars, and thieves ! " 

These must needs seem to us cruel words, spoken 
as they were of a man who was not yet cold in his grave. 
One cannot but wish that at least Camille had kept 
silence, had forborne to blame where he could not 
conscientiously praise. But that was not in the nature 


of the man, and his own best defence of the attitude 
which he took up at this time is to be found in 
another part of his writings. 

There is something infinitely pathetic in the simple, 
unaffected words. It is as though Camille here 
allowed himself to express his real, honest grief for 
the friend, not his opinion of the public man. 

" Death, which knits up again every attachment, brought 
me back to his house before it entered there, as indeed any 
peril of his would have brought me back ; and it was not my 
fault if his servants did not tell him how much I grieved for 
his illness. But I could do no more than write my name at 
his door. I had preferred my love for truth to the friendship 
of Mirabeau." 


■A LTHOUGH the plans of the Court had 

/% been laid secretly for months past, it is 
h — ^ probable that the King and Queen had 
A^ Ji^ not intended to make any attempt to 
carry them into execution until it was proved that 
Mirabeau could not, or would not, help them to 
attain their ends by other means. It is difficult to be 
certain whether the stories of Mirabeau's private 
interviews with Marie- Antoinette are true or false. 
At least it was a method which she, conscious of her 
personal charm, often made use of when she wished 
to transform an enemy into a friend. A few months 
afterwards Barnave, staunch Revolutionary as he was, 
became her slave for life through a few kind words 
and an appeal for his sympathy in a degrading situa- 
tion. It was also by means of a private interview 
that the Queen tried later to win over the Girondist 
party, through Guadet, one of their leaders, an 
attempt in which she was, to a certain extent, suc- 

In any case, and by whatever means, Mirabeau's 
power and influence had been gained by the Court 
party. There is little or no doubt but that he was 
prepared to throw all his weight into the scales against 
the further advance of the Revolution. 

But a greater power than his intervened ; Mirabeau 
died, and the King and Queen were left to carry out 
their plans as best they might. 

What those plans were is well known now. We may 
read the voluminous correspondence carried on with 



the leaders of the emigration, whilst, to all seeming, 
Louis was resigned to the prospect of becoming a 
mere constitutional monarch. It was the old story of 
too many conspirators. Part of their plans leaked out 
here, a rash word was spoken there. There were 
orders and counter-orders, commands and counter- 
mands, the one contradicting the other. If only all 
the arrangements had been left to be organised by 
one man the flight to Varennes might not now be 
known as one of the great fiascos of history. If 
Bouille had been left to himself . . . but there are 
so many possibilities hanging on that word " if." 

If the King had been another man, or the Queen a 
different woman, if his Majesty's legitimate meals had 
not been more important than any considerations of 
safety, and if her Maj*esty had been content to travel 
without her huge, gold-mounted dressing-case, things 
might have fallen out quite otherwise than they did. 

There had been rumours afloat in Paris that the 
Royal family meditated flight. Again and again these 
rumours were contradicted by the King, and by 
Lafayette, who was still to some extent a popular 
idol. Some of the more wide-awake journalists — and 
amongst these Camille Desmoulins was prominent — 
put no faith in these protestations. At Easter time 
the populace, stirred up by Danton, prevented the 
King from going to St. Cloud, believing, and probably 
with good reason, that this was only the first step 
in a journey which would carry him beyond the 

There was no active ill-feeling against the King. 
The people of the lower classes were, in fact, fond of 
him. They wished to keep him amongst them, they 
regarded his person as a kind of talisman. As for the 
more enlightened men of the Revolutionary party, the 
members of the Assembly and others, they quite 
plainly saw the value of the King and his family as 
hostages. Once they had succeeded in joining the 


emigrants, Paris and France would be at the mercy of 
a Coalition formed to bring back the old monarchy, 
unreformed and unconstitutional. 

Camille, as usual, was bolder than his compeers. 
Some time before the King's flight, he stated in his 
journal that only the name of monarchy was left to 
France, and that, setting aside five or six decrees, 
which contradicted one another, France had been 
formed into a Republic. Camille, indeed, had grown 
very bitter against the King as a man, and not only 
as a monarch. Again and again he jeers at his greedy 
appetite, his fatness, his slow-wittedness, all those 
little vulgar faults which made poor Louis such an 
unregal figure. 

The King fell ill in March, and for a short time was 
rather seriously unwell. Camille takes the opportunity 
in the " Revolutions " to laugh at the Assembly for 
being interrupted daily " to hear the ridiculous 
technology of the doctors on the occasion of the cold 
of the eldest of the Capets." It is easy to see that 
loyalty and reverence for the King were almost a thing 
of the past, in Paris at least, when such language as 
-this could pass unreproved and unpunished. 

During the spring and early summer of 1 79 1 
preparations were made for the elections to the new 
Assembly, which was to succeed its predecessor in the 

The members were to be elected according to the 
property suffrage laws which had been passed in the 
preceding January, and the qualifications for eligibility 
to the Assembly laid down by these laws were stringent 
enough to make them most obnoxious to the advanced 

The extreme party foresaw plainly that the result of 
this limited suffrage would be to form an assembly 
composed of prosperous, middle-class men, elected by 
similar persons, an assembly which would be far too 
law-abiding and property-respecting to suit the views 


of the leaders of the Jacobins and Cordeliers. They 
regarded these property qualifications as marking a 
distinctly retrograde movement, since the States- 
General, or Constituent Assembly, had been elected 
practically on a basis of universal suffrage. 

Accordingly at the beginning of June protests were 
made by the Clubs and the Fraternal Societies of Paris 
demanding universal suffrage, and the repeal of what 
was known as the " silver mark " qualification. It 
was so called because in order to be eligible for election 
to the Assembly it was necessary for the candidate to 
be possessed of real estate, and also to pay a direct tax 
equal to a mark of silver. 

We find Camille taking a prominent part in this 
movement of opposition to the property suffrage laws 
on June i6th. The section of the Theatre Frangais, to 
which both he and Danton belonged, united in 
primary assembly on this day and refused to join in a 
collective petition which it considered illegal. How- 
ever, Garran de Coulon, Danton, Bonneville, and 
Camille Desmoulins were entrusted with the task of 
drafting a petition which the members of the section 
would sign individually. 

The influence of Camille is very plainly traceable 
in the literary style of this document. It is really 
an effective piece of work and quite worthy of repro- 

" Fathers of the Country," it begins, " recognise your own 
decrees ! The law is the expression of the general will, and we 
see with sorrow that those who saved the country on the 
14th of July, who then sacrificed their lives to snatch you from 
the dangers which threatened you, count for nothing in the 
primary assemblies. 

" To order citizens to obey laws which they have neither 
made nor sanctioned is to condemn to slavery the very men 
who have overthrown a despotism. No ; the French will not 
suffer such a thing. We, active citizens, will have none of it. 

" You have put civic degradation amongst the greatest 
penalties. The penal Code enacts that the Clerk of the 



Court shall say to the criminal : Your country has found you 
convicted of an infamous action ; the law degrades you from 
the quality of a French citizen. 

" What is the infamous action of which you have found two 
hundred thousand citizens of the capital guilty ? To declare 
that taxation shall be imposed by the Nation alone, and, in 
another decree, to exclude from the rights of a citizen the 
majority of tax-paying citizens, is to destroy the nation. 
The social art is to govern all by all. Therefore annul these 
decrees, which violate your sublime Declaration of the rights 
of men and citizens ; give back to us our brothers, to rejoice 
with us in the benefits of a Constitution which they im- 
patiently await, which they have courageously sustained ! 
Unless the whole Nation sanction your decrees, there is 
neither Constitution nor liberty." 

This petition was afterwards combined with one 
from the Gobelins section and presented at the 
National Assembly on June 19th or 20th. It was sent 
in to the Committee of Constitution, but nothing 
particularly definite resulted from it. The October 
elections took place on the property qualifications, and 
the new Assembly, thoroughly bourgeois as it was, 
fully justified the fears of its opponents. 

Towards the beginning and middle of June more 
definite rumours of the plans of the Court leaked out. 
Frequent paragraphs appeared in Camille's paper and 
others, warning the people that the King was about 
to make an attempt to escape. But the lower classes 
of the populace trusted Lafayette and Lafayette 
trusted the King ; in consequence nothing was done. 

The story of that 21st of June, 1791, has been told 
again and again, the incidents of those few summer 
days have formed the subject of more than one entire 
volume. One may read of it in fullest detail above all 
in M. Lenotre's vivid and powerful monograph, the 
" Fhght of Marie-Antoinette." 

It is with good reason that historians have dwelt 
upon the events of the flight to Varennes. It may be 
called with justice one of the great turning-points of 


the French Revolution, and it is a question whether 
its success would have more entirely altered the aspect 
of affairs than did its failure. 

For days past the rumours of the King's projected 
flight had grown more and more persistent, in fact, so 
persistent were they that they defeated their own 
object. The journalists had cried " Wolf ! " so often 
that now they were not credited. Here is Camille's 
own account of the events of the evening before, as he 
saw them. 

" I was coming away from the Jacobins with Danton and 
some other patriots," he says, " at eleven o'clock, and aU the 
way home we encountered only one patrol. Paris seemed to 
be so completely deserted that I remarked upon it. One of 
us who had a letter in his pocket in which he was informed 
that the King was to go away that night, went to have a look 
at the Chateau and saw M. de Lafayette entering the gates at 
eleven o'clock." 

The extraordinary thing would seem to be that the 
flight was even partially successful, since suspicion 
seems to have been so widespread. 

The escape was discovered in the early morning, 
when the fugitives were already well advanced on their 
road. The news spread through the capital like a spark 
in tinder. Paris was soon in a turmoil. Excited groups 
of people ran hither and thither, not knowing to whom, 
or against whom, to turn. In No. 82 of his paper 
Camille expresses what were the feelings of the 
majority of the people at that moment. 

"On Tuesday, the 21st of June," he writes, "it became 
known that the King and all his family had fled. It was at 
eleven o'clock at night that the general decamfativos of the 
male and female Capets took place, and it was not until nine 
o'clock in the morning that the news was known. Treason ! 
Perjury ! Barnave and Lafayette are abusing our confidence." 

Lafayette was naturally the scapegoat. He was 
responsible ; it was he who had allowed his charges to 


escape. As Commandant of the National Guard of 
Paris, he should have made sure that such a thing 
was impossible. In this emergency, Lafayette acted as 
usual like a brave man ; what was not quite so usual 
with him, he behaved like a wise one. He showed him- 
self in the streets, both alone, and together with 
Beauharnais, President of the Assembly. He went 
fearlessly to and fro, conspicuous, as we are told, in 
his cocked hat, although in the face of the people's 
indignation he must have done so at the imminent 
risk of his life. The position was a terribly difficult 
one, for, after all, had any person or persons the right 
to stop the King from going where he chose ? 

Lafayette and Beauharnais took the law into their 
own hands and despatched two couriers with the 
authority of the Assembly to arrest the flight, if it was 
in their power to do so. 

The Assembly held a permanent sitting all through 
that sultry summer day and the succeeding hot airless 
night. The members from time to time went out 
into the Tuileries Gardens for a breath of air, but, 
nevertheless, before the session was at an end, many had 
fallen asleep on their benches from utter weariness. 

Indeed, there was much food for the consideration 
of the Assembly. Some form of Government must 
be established for the duration of the King's absence, 
were it for an hour, a day, or a year. The form which 
that Government really took was, to all intents and 
purposes, that of a Republic. The Assembly assumed 
the supreme authority, decrees were issued in its 
name, documents sealed with its seal. It was a 
curious result of Louis' flight that he thereby drove 
the hitherto monarchical Assembly into republicanism. 

It was in this fashion that the deputies of the people 
passed the time, whilst they waited for news, good or 
bad. Meanwhile the populace of^the capital repaired 
to the deserted palace of the Tuileries. No need for 
ceremony now. The King and Queen had fled, and in 


doing so had taught their people disrespect for royalty. 
Half-laughing, half-angry, they swarmed through the 
King's house, staining the rich carpets with their 
muddy boots, soiling the hangings and ornaments 
with the inquisitive touch of their grimy fingers. 

A market woman seated herself on the very bed of 
Marie-Antoinette and from thence sold cherries to the 
jeering crowd. There were ribald jests and coarse 
laughter. One may be sure that the Queen was not 
spared in her absence, since they had mocked her 
already to her face. 

That evening of June 21st there was a stormy 
meeting at the Jacobins. Robespierre made a violent 
speech, denouncing those in authority, accusing the 
ministry of complicity in the escape, and declaring 
that he did not fear the death which he braved by his 

Camille was present at the sitting, and, carried away 
by excitement, he rose in his place and shouted that 
all who were there were ready to die with Robespierre 
if need be. The whole club responded with cheers and 
enthusiasm to the journalist's lead. 

Tidings came at last, and after no long delay. The 
fugitives had been arrested and detained, although 
not by Lafayette's somewhat half-hearted envoys. It 
was the quickness and resource of Drouet, the famous 
postmaster of Sainte-Menehould, which had been 
mainly instrumental in saving France — to use the 
phraseology of the day. A series of misapprehensions 
and mistakes in the arrangement of the flight certainly 
aided him, and, above all, the weakness of the King, 
who, as usual, yielded with a better grace than was 
either seemly or necessary. 

When Lafayette's aide-de-camp, Romeuf, arrived 
at Varennes, the Royal family were already virtually 
prisoners, although determined action on the part of 
the King might have led to their escape at any moment 
even then. 


Then followed that terrible dragged-out journey back 
to Paris, in the crowded berlin, accompanied by the 
deputies from the Assembly, Petion, Barnave and 
Latour-Maubeuge, who met the party on the road. 
Yet even in the dust and discomfort of the stifling 
summer weather the Queen did not lose her powers 
of fascination. Before they reached the capital 
Barnave was her avowed champion, Barnave, the 
staunchest of Revolutionaries heretofore. 

That little procession found Paris in a strange state. 
The people had recaptured their King and Queen, 
but, like children when some ardently desired thing is 
possessed, it really seemed now as though they did not 
want them so very much after all. 

Camille says in the " Revolutions " for this date : 
" What can the Capets have hoped on reading this 
placard carried on the point of a pike : * Whosoever 
applauds the King will be clubbed ; whosoever insults 
him will be hanged.' " 

It was this line of conduct which the populace 
followed in the main, but the general feeling was 
distinctly hostile towards the prisoners. It showed 
itself from the first, and when the carriage reached 
the Tuileries, it was evinced in a determined attack 
upon the faithful bodyguard, who were only saved by 
the active intervention of the deputies from the 

In No. 83 of his journal Camille, whilst he intends 
to insult, really pays a genuine tribute to the brave 
bearing of Marie-Antoinette upon this occasion. 

" She descended from the carriage," he says, " in the 
attitude of a suppliant, and with a humiliated countenance ; 
but she walked up the staircase with her nose in the air, and 
quite unabashed." 

In the same number the journalist describes Louis' 
demeanour on re-entering the Tuileries with un- 
doubted truth, since it agrees with the testimony of 


other witnesses in most particulars. Camille says 
that the King's only comment as he entered his 
apartment was : — 

" It's devilish hot ! " and then : " That was a journey. 

However, I had it in my mind for a long time. I have done a 
foolish thing, I confess. But may I not have my follies like 
other people ? Come on, bring me a fowl." 

After which not essentially kingly speech, Louis XVI 
proceeded to eat his supper with, an appetite which, 
as Camille says, would have done honour to the King 
of Cockayne. 

During the first few weeks which succeeded the 
King's flight and recapture public feeling ran very 
high. It is true that there was not much open demand 
for a Republic, but the Assembly continued to 
conduct a form of Government which was, to all 
intents and purposes, republican. Louis was, as it 
were, suspended. There was a distinct understanding 
that he was not to be allowed to resume the throne 
until it was definitely decided what were to be the 
exact limitations of his power. 

Camille again was amongst the most outspoken of 
the journalists. The tone of his paper became very 
threatening towards the King, as the following extract 
will show : — 

" As the king-animal is an aliquot portion of the human 
species, and as men have the simplicity to make him an integral 
portion of the body politic, it is essential that he should be 
subjected to the laws of society, which have declared that any 
man who shall be taken with arms in his hand against the 
Nation shall be punished with death ; and also to the laws of 
the human species, to the natural right which permits me to 
kill the enemy who attacks me. Now the King has aimed 
at the Nation. It is true that he has missed fire, but it is the 
Nation's turn now." 

As usual, Camille was before his time. Few, if any, 
of the politicians of June, 1791, went so far as he. 


But these words, almost incredibly daring as they were 
then, were mere commonplaces in the mouths of men 
eighteen months later. 

It was not only Royalty which Camille attacked ; 
he inveighed with violence against almost all the 
existing powers of the State. In his journal at this 
time we find him saying that the unfaithful representa- 
tives of the people were fair game, and not content 
with vilifying Lafayette himself, he writes with scorn 
and contempt of the National Guard which he 

" The National Guard in its present organisation," he says, 
" is a dead weight on the breast of the people — we may gather 
their sentiments from the bleu-de-Roi colour of their uniforms 
— and there will be no improvement until their shakos have 
been superseded by the woollen caps of the people." 

Camille was overhasty ; the turn of the nation was 
not yet fully come. Many events were to take place, 
much blood was to be shed before that January day, 
when the sovereign people did indeed take its revenge 
for the wrongs which it had suffered at the hands of 
Louis and his predecessors. 


" He feedeth on wind, and followeth after the East Wind ; 
he daily increaseth lies and desolation." 

Hosea xii. I. 


IN spite of the immense upheaval of public 
feeling which was the result of the Varennes 
flight, the advanced party in the State did not, 
as might have been expected, at once gain the 
ascendancy. On the contrary, during the remainder 
of this year the Counter Revolution made its last 
great stand, and for a time it almost seemed as though 
it would be victorious. 

In this apparent, though only momentary downfall 
of the Republican cause Camille's fortunes were very 
intimately involved. Hitherto he had been from the 
first consistently and steadily successful ; now he was 
to receive a distinct and unwelcome check. The wind 
had changed once more, and it was no favouring 
breeze for Camille which blew now. 

Immunity from attack had made the journalist very 
bold. He had grown to think that he could say exactly 
what he liked without fear of the consequences. It 
came as a shock to Camille to find that the Press was 
not yet free to the extent that he had believed to be 
the case. 

The Assembly was by no means prepared to go to 
extremes as far as the King was concerned. The 
majority amongst them did not, as yet, desire a Re- 
public. They wished for a monarchy still, albeit a 
limited and strictly constitutional monarchy. But 
the mass of the people was rapidly becoming more and 
more anti-monarchical, and it soon appeared that they 
did not intend to submit tamely to the legislation of 
their representatives in this matter. 



As early as June 24th thirty thousand citizens 
assembled in the Place Vendome under Theophile 
Mandar, and demanded that the Assembly should 
decide nothing as to the fate of Louis XVI before 
consulting the departments. 

On July 9th the Cordeliers Club took the matter in 
hand and sent a similar petition to the Assembly, 
drawn up by Boucher Saint-Sauveur. This petition 
the President, Charles de Lameth, refused to read. 
Their demand being thus disregarded, the Cordeliers 
determined upon a very bold and aggressive step. On 
July 1 2th they appealed to the people to suspend the 
decree announcing the elections for the forthcoming 
assembly, by means of an insurrection ; the Club in 
this manner definitely incited the populace to take up 

Meanwhile the day of the festival in commemoration 
of the taking of the Bastille was at hand, and the people 
became more and more restless and excited. On 
July 14th one hundred citizens of Paris drew up an- 
other petition, and the reading of it caused democratic 
demonstrations to take place at the Champ-de-Mars, 
where the " referendum " to the departments was 
openly demanded. 

On this same day a large number of citizens adopted 
a petition drawn up by Massulard, which required 
that : " The Assembly postpones any determination 
as to the fate of Louis XVI until the clearly expressed 
wish of the whole Empire has been heard." These 
petitioners sent two delegates to the Assembly, but 
they only succeeded in obtaining an interview with 
Robespierre, Petion and Bailly, who told them that 
their protests were useless as the decree exculpating 
Louis had already been brought forward. 

Nevertheless, on the evening of July 15th, at the 
Jacobins Club, Choderlos de Laclos, who, be it noted, 
was an accredited agent of the Duke of Orleans, asked 
that another petition might be drawn up demanding 


the referendum, which should be signed by " all 
citizens " without distinction, active, passive, women 
and children. This document was to be sent through- 
out all the departments of France for signature. 

As the members were voting on the question a 
deputation from the Palais Royal broke into the hall. 
The President Anthoine suggested to them the 
adoption of Laclos' petition. This mixed assembly 
then nominated Lanthenas, Danton, Brissot, Sergent 
and Ducancel to draw it up, but it was Brissot alone 
who really performed the task. 

Late that night a secret meeting was held in 
Danton's rooms, at which Camille, Brune and La 
Poype were present, to consult as to the best means of 
spreading the movement through the provinces and of 
obtaining the largest possible number of signatures. 

Next morning the petition was read in the Church 
of the Jacobins. It concluded thus : — 

" The undersigned Frenchmen formally and particularly 
request that the National Assembly shall accept, in the name 
of the Nation, the abdication effected by Louis XVI on June 
2 1 St of the crown which had been entrusted to him and 
provide for his replacement, by all constitutional means, the 
undersigned declaring that they will never recognise Louis 
XVI as their King, unless, indeed, the majority of the Nation 
should express a desire contrary to the petition." 

The promoters of this petition obviously intended 
that all their proceedings should be marked by a regard 
for law and order. The municipality was formally 
notified, according to the legal requirements, that they 
intended to assemble in the Champ-de-Mars. Camille 
and eight others signed this notification. Permission 
was given, and accordingly Danton and three more 
read the petition aloud from the four corners of the 
Altar of the Country. 

There was a heated discussion at the Jacobins that 
evening. Some of the extreme republicans wished to 
insert " nor any other King " after the statement 


that they would not accept Louis XVI to reign over 
them. In the midst o£ the arguments and deUberations 
they received the notification that the Assembly had 
made its proclamation exculpating the King. 

The petition was accordingly withdrawn, and an 
announcement to that effect was publicly made in the 
Champ-de-Mars next day. 

As far as the Jacobin party was concerned this was 
the end of the matter. Danton, Camille and the rest 
were prepared to yield to circumstances, for the 
moment at any rate, and to give up the idea of a 
petition ; in fact this was the course that they actually 
adopted. Not so the extremists. A fresh petition 
was drawn up on the 17th of the month by the more 
violent republicans, the most active spirit amongst 
them being Robert, the journalist, who, as we shall 
see later, was a friend of Camille and his wife. 

This time the demand was forcibly made that the 
Assembly should repeal its decree of exculpation. 
Neither Danton, Camille, nor any other noted Jacobin 
or Cordelier signed this petition, and there is not a 
shred of evidence to prove that they were in any way 
accessory to it. 

It was read in the Champ-de-Mars, where an 
immense crowd assembled to hear it. The mob 
attacked and killed two men who were discovered 
hiding under the altar of the country, and who were 
suspected of being spies. In reality they were there 
for quite a different purpose, and one which was 
harmless from a political point of view. 

A riot ensued, and Bailly, Mayor of Paris, and 
Lafayette, as commandant of the National Guard, 
hoisted the red flag of martial law and despatched 
troops to fire upon and disperse the mob. For the 
moment the action of the Municipality was entirely 
successful. Many of the rioters were killed or wounded 
and the remainder dispersed to their homes, terrorised 
and dismayed. 


Nevertheless, Bailly and Lafayette had acted with 
great unwisdom — unless they were prepared to carry 
out the system which they had adopted to its legitimate 
end and to put down the extremists by means of the 
most stringent measures. The Municipality had 
definitely taken up arms against the people. Only a 
few years later Bailly, on his way to the guillotine, was 
to learn whether the Parisian mob had forgotten the 
" massacre of the Champ-de-Mars." 

It has been necessary to give this rather precise 
account of the various petitions in order to show 
plainly that Camille was not actually involved in this 
last and most famous demonstration, which led to the 
riots and military intervention. 

Nevertheless, when a decree was drawn up by 
Bernardon the i8th, Camille, Santerre and Legendre 
were amongst the fourteen included in the accusation. 
The charges against them were somewhat vague, but 
they were accused practically of trying to intimidate 
the National Assembly, and of wishing to institute a 

Now in theory Camille was undoubtedly guilty on 
both these counts, but in practice he was, in this 
instance, more or less unjustly accused. 

In spite of the warrant which had been issued 
against him Camille spoke that night of July i8th at 
the Jacobins. In fact, he seems to have made a most 
violent speech against Lafayette and Bailly, whom he 
stigmatised as the " two arch-Tartuifes of civism." 
After the meeting was over, however, he did not 
return to his own home, but took refuge with some 
friends in another part of the city. He remained in 
hiding for some weeks and thus managed to evade 

Danton meanwhile took refuge at Fontenay-sous- 
Bois and afterwards in England until the storm should 
have blown over. It is recorded by an old writer, 
J. Adolphus, in his curious " Biographical Memoirs " 


of the French Revolution, pubhshed in 1799, that 
Camille fled to Marseilles during this period of out- 
lawry. He gives as his authority for this statement 
the '^ Mercure Frangais, No. 30," and Moore's 
" View." It is quite possible that the writer is correct 
on this point, but the unreliability of most of his 
information with regard to Camille makes one hesitate 
to accept his authority. 

The affair of the Champ-de-Mars caused Camille's 
journal to die a violent death. The municipality was 
determined to put an end to the unbounded licence 
of the Press, to which, rightly enough, was attributed 
most of the trouble which had taken place. It would 
have gone hard with Camille if he had fallen into the 
hands of his enemies at this juncture. Prudhomme, 
the editor of the " Revolutions de Paris," was mis- 
taken for him and very roughly handled by the 
National Guard on the Pont Neuf . In the same place 
Stanislas Freron, Camille's friend and sub-editor, had 
a narrow escape from death. 

Only one more number of the " Revolutions de 
France et de Brabant " was issued after July i8th, a 
number which the journalist dedicated ironically to 
Lafayette, the " phoenix of alguazil-mayors." In 
conclusion Camille asks his fellow-editor Prudhomme 
to send five numbers of the " Revolutions de Paris " 
to the subscribers of the defunct journal, thus com- 
pleting the three months due to them. The number 
ends with the words : " It costs me much to lay down 
my pen," words which show so plainly the spirit of the 
true journalist. 

Camille's printing office was sacked and the plant 
destroyed by some soldiers who were sent to arrest 
the editor himself, and were disappointed in their 
hope of finding him there. The National Guardsmen 
revenged themselves by handling his secretary, Roch 
Marcandier, very roughly. This man, a Guisard also, 
was a curious and interesting character. He certainly 


seems later to have treated Camille badly, and his 
word-portrait of him in a pamphlet entitled " Hommes 
des Proies " is both violent and exaggerated. 

M. Claretie treats Marcandier with the utmost 
contempt, but his career was picturesque and by no 
means wholly discreditable. He certainly displayed 
great bravery some time later, when he inveighed 
against the leaders o£ the " ultras " at the height of 
the Terror. This bravery cost him his life, and in 
that respect he was the precursor of Camille himself, 
since he died as the result of an appeal for clemency. 

The enquiry into the affair of the Champ-de-Mars 
dragged on from July 23rd to August 8th, and the 
proceedings were continued until August 21st. On 
this latter date the writs of arrest against Camille 
and five others were cancelled in favour of a 

At the beginning of September Camille, perhaps 
emboldened by this fact, was rash enough to take up 
an aggressive attitude towards the Municipality. He 
posted a large rose-coloured placard addressed to 
" Passers-by " in prominent positions throughout 
several districts of Paris. It began in a fashion which 
certainly cannot be called conciliatory. 

" I beg you to stop a moment and say to whom you would 
give the prize of virtue, if you had to choose between the 
benches of the convicts and the seats of the Tribunal of the 
sixth arrondissement. You have learned from the placard of 
Santerre that, false witnesses having failed, Bernard, the 
public prosecutor, supplied the false evidence by sending 
to the ' Friend of the Citizens ' and signing with his own 
hand a false extract from depositions which did not exist." 

After this fairly outspoken indictment of the legal 
proceedings of the Commune of Paris, Camille goes 
on to say that the only evidence which that body can 
even pretend to find, connecting him with the affair 
of the Champ-de-Mars, is that on July 3rd he had been 


heard to read aloud a petition in the Cafe Procope, 
maintaining that assignats were the patrimony of the 

" No," cries Camille. " My crime is that I am uncorruptible, 
that I have not chosen to make my pen the slave of any parties 
who have courted it and bargained for it : my crime is that I 
am the irreconcilable enemy of all enemies of the public 
welfare. . . . One of the judges has said publicly that there 
were no more charges, no more depositions, no more accusa- 
tions, and yet the tribunal, sitting with closed doors, dis- 
missed my demand to be remanded, at least, for a further 
hearing. Thus I remain under an accusation, without any 
accusation ! " 

This placard naturally did not pass unremarked. 
A report was made to the Procureur of the Commune 
upon the " incendiary document signed Camille 
Desmoulins." It was stigmatised as " insulting, 
indecent and disgusting," and as calculated to excite 
citizens to " share with its author those sentiments of 
contempt which he impudently professes to entertain 
towards the members of the tribunal. The said 
writing being seditious, inflammatory and likely to i 

disturb the public tranquillity " 

Nevertheless, beyond tearing down the posters 
wherever they were found and giving notice of their 
existence to the police, no further steps appear to have 
been taken. 

The Assembly proclaimed a general amnesty on 
September nth, and from that time the prosecutions 
seem to have been abandoned. However, Camille 
was evidently not very sure of his own standing in the 
matter, since he appealed to the Assembly about the 
middle of the month to ascertain whether he preserved 
his title and functions of elector. This question was 
disregarded, but we find, nevertheless, that Camille 
did serve in this capacity for the section of the Theatre 
Frangais when the elections took place during October 
for the new Legislative Assembly. 


Camille appeared in public on October 21st and 
read a paper at the Jacobins on the poHtical situation 
at the opening of the new Assembly. He had just been 
elected Secretary to the Society of Friends of the 
Constitution, and, as he said himself, he regarded this 
nomination as an invitation to break silence once more. 

Certainly this paper does not show Camille to be 
one whit less bold and aggressive than before. Neither 
his opinions nor his language are in any way subdued 
by his enforced silence, and he attacks all those whom 
he considers moderates as vehemently as ever. 

" We did not only ask that royalty should be extinguished," 
he says, " but that a tyranny worse than royalty should not be 
established in its place ; for when was any monarch so in- 
violable that he would have dared to treat his subjects as the 
citizens were treated at Nancy and in the Champ-de-Mars, 
without exposing himself to the tragic fate of a Nero or a 
Caligula ? " 

On the whole, however, Camille and the other 
extreme Republicans found it wisest to keep their 
opinions more or less to themselves for a time. The 
day of the Champ-de-Mars had left the Moderatists 
victorious. There was a great and pronounced 
reaction in favour of royalty — a reaction which lasted 
for almost a year. 

Not that the King and Queen were genuinely 
resigned to their fate. The Queen at least was more 
determined than ever to reassume power, to bring 
back the old order of things in its entirety. As 
appeared afterwards, a. constant correspondence was 
kept up between the French court and that of Austria, 
a correspondence which ultimately resulted in the 
coalition of the powers of Europe against France, and 
in the great war. 

Yet to all outward seeming the King and even 
Marie-Antoinette were submissive. On September 
13th Louis XVI signified his acceptance of the Con- 


stitution, and an extraordinary outburst of loyalty 
followed. The Parisians seemed to think that the 
millennium was come, that all would now go well with 

The whole Royal family, with Lafayette beside 
them, walked by torchlight in the Champs Elysees 
amid the applause of the populace. They appeared 
at the theatres, and the actors on the stage were 
neglected, whilst the audience cheered the King and 
Queen again and again. A verse of a popular song of 
these days has come down to us. The doggerel 
couplets express plainly the spirit of the time. 

" Notre bon roi 
A tout fait ; 
Et notre bonne reine 
Qu'elle eut de peine ! 
Enfin les v'la 
Hors d'embarra ! " 

On September 25th the King and his family were 
present when a " Te Deum " was sung at Notre Dame, 
and on the day when the Assembly finally separated 
Louis again renewed his protestations of loyalty to the 
Constitution. He further propitiated the populace 
by distributing 50,000 livres in alms to the poor. 

It was no wonder that, while the current of public 
feeling ran so high in favour of royalty, Camille and 
his like were perforce silent. It must be remembered, 
of course, that the journalist had now no paper and 
therefore no means of expressing his views, for it 
was never by the eloquence of his tongue that Camille 
could make himself felt. The time was not propitious 
for the re-publication of a paper on the lines of the 
" Revolutions de France," and it is doubtful whether 
Camille could have found anyone to produce it for 
him, even if he had possessed the necessary money. 
At the moment his principles were not popular. 

It does not for a moment follow that because the 


journalist was silent, he had in any way modified his 
views, or was himself affected in the smallest degree 
by the passing outburst of loyalty. It is quite certain 
that this was not the case ; but Camille, in common 
with others, was a little cowed. He waited further 
developments, we may be sure, with no faith in the 
protestations of the King and the seeming submissive- 
ness of the Queen. 

Possibly, as things were, he was contented enough 
to wait thus. He was completely happy in his home 
life, and probably, for a short time at least, a respite 
from the tension of journalistic work was not un- 
welcome. Not for long ; soon we find him writing to 
his father : " My paper was a power. I should not 
have discontinued it. That was a great folly of which 
I was guilty." 

So we picture Camille during the autumn and early 
winter of 1791, happy certainly, contented in a mea- 
sure, but a man, nevertheless, whose occupation was 
gone, and who must needs chafe at idleness until he 
is back in harness once more. 


THE Legislative Assembly met in October, 
1 79 1, and the spirit which animated this 
new governing body was exactly what might 
have been expected considering the circum- 
stances under which it had been convoked. 
. The Assembly was elected on the property suffrage 
laws of January, 1 791, the same laws which, as we have 
seen, had called forth such violent protests from the 
sections and clubs of Paris in the preceding June. 
In consequence this body of men had an entirely 
different character from the former Constituent 
Assembly, elected practically by universal suffrage, 
and from the later National Convention, convoked 
according to the laws of August loth, which decreed 
virtually unlimited suffrage. 

The Legislative Assembly was essentially bourgeois. 
By far the larger proportion of the members were 
provincial lawyers and their like. These men were 
nearly all young, and exceedingly enthusiastic. The 
methods of the Constituent Assembly had seemed to 
them very slow ; they intended to reform everything 
at a far higher rate of speed. 

With the opening of the Legislative Assembly a 
number of new actors appear upon the Revolutionary 
stage. The self-denying ordinance passed by the late 
goveTning body decreed that none of their members 
might be re-elected to the new Assembly. Barnave, 
Sieyes, the Lameths, Duport, Robespierre — all these 
who played prominent parts at the beginning of 
the Revolution are for the moment shelved, or, 



at best, can only pull the wires from behind the 

The new men, as has been said, were for the most 
part lawyers, and amongst these provincial advocates 
a little group stands out prominently. This coterie 
later formed the nucleus of that rather incoherent 
party which was to be known to posterity as that of 
the " Girondins." 

It was only a few of these men who, in reality, came 
from the department of the Gironde, yet the epithet 
has survived their other titles, which were in more 
common use at the time, such as " Brissotins " and 
" Rolandists." Perhaps it is this last name which 
describes the party most exactly, since Madame Roland 
was the tie which bound their disjointed members 
together, and gave to them more or less unanimity. 

Vergniaud, Guadet, Brissot, Louvet, Valaze, Bar- 
baroux, Buzot — these names have more power to stir 
the imagination than those of any other men of the 
Revolution. Faulty they were, all of them, unwise 
often in their private actions and their public policy 
alike. They embarked on enterprises which they were 
not prepared to carry through to their only legitimate 
conclusion, they committed crimes for expediency's 
sake which their hearts and consciences alike con- 
demned. It is not by any means certain that the 
Girondins were not the very precursors of the Terror 
itself — certainly it is in the fiery speeches of Isnard 
and Barbaroux that we first find terroristic methods 

But, in spite of everything, these men were dis- 
interested and pure in their intentions. They honestly 
wished to save their country ; had they only been far- 
sighted and wise enough to accept Danton's offer of 
collaboration, it is possible that they might have 
succeeded. Girondin theories and Dantonist practice 
would have gone far — had the combination been 


From the first the majority of the members of the 
Legislative Assembly, led by the Girondist party, were 
Republican in theory. 

Moreover, they had just had a very successful re- 
hearsal, as it were, of the Republican form of govern- 
ment during the temporary suspension of the King. 
Nevertheless, it would seem that for the time they were 
neither anxious nor willing to carry their theories into 
practice. They had determined to give royalty 
another chance, and they began by establishing what 
M. Aulard calls the " Bourgeois Monarchy." The 
King was resettled upon the throne as head of the 
executive. His powers were limited, it is true, but 
nevertheless wide enough. 

Possibly if Louis had been left to himself he would 
have accepted the position philosophically, but left 
to himself he never was, by his Queen and by his 
advisers. Rightly or wrongly they laboured unceasingly 
to rouse him from that constitutional apathy of his, 
they goaded him onwards, drove him forward along that 
road which was finally to lead him from supervision to 
imprisonment, from imprisonment to the guillotine. 

In the meantime everybody was hopeful. It looked 
as though the new Constitution was working smoothly 
and effectively enough during the early months of the 
winter of 1791-92. 

It was in January, 1792, that the first quarrel arose 
between Camille Desmoulins and Brissot — the quarrel 
which was to grow into that bitter enmity which 
only ended in the downfall of Brissot and his party. 
It all began, as one so often finds it to be the case where 
Camille is concerned, in a personal affront to the 
irritable and thin-skinned journalist. 

Before the " Revolutions de France et de Brabant " 
had ceased to appear a newspaper dispute had arisen 
between the two writers. Brissot on more than one 
occasion reproved his colleague, whom he considered 
over-violent, in his characteristic, somewhat didactic 


manner, and he committed the unpardonable sin, 
Vv^here Camille was concerned, of caUing the latter a 
" young man," using the expression, of course, in the 
sense that inferred inexperience. 

The offence rankled. It was Camille's greatest 
fault that he did not easily forget these trifling wounds 
to his vanity. He only waited for an opportunity to 

This opportunity was given to him by Brissot 
himself nearly eight months later. 

Since the decease of his paper, Camille had returned 
to the practice of his profession, and at the beginning 
of 1792 he defended the case of a woman named 
Beifroi and a man, one Dithurbide, both accused of 
running a gambling-house in the Passage Radziville. 
They were condemned to six months' imprisonment 
by the Correctional Police Court, and Camille 
immediately published a kind of placard, which was 
posted everywhere, protesting against what he con- 
sidered was much too severe a punishment. 

This broadsheet of Camille's was only half serious 
in tone, but, for that very reason, it gave particular 
offence to Brissot, whose attitude in such matters was 
always severe and almost Puritanical. It was in 
accordance with the character of the man, a character 
in every way entirely antagonistic to Camille's, 
although, if we are to believe Madame Roland, 
Brissot, the man, was not in entire agreement with 
Brissot the writer. 

" His writings," she says of him, " are more calculated to 
achieve good resuks than his personality, because they have aU 
the authority which reason, justice and illumination may give 
to such words, whereas personally he had none of that, lacking 

A very bitter article, written either by the editor 
himself, or possibly by Girey-Dupre, appeared in 
Brissot's journal " Le Patriote Frangais." This article 
protested strongly against the attitude which Camille 


had taken up with regard to gaming, and ended with 
the words, certainly offensive enough : " This man only 
calls himself a patriot that he may insult patriotism." 

Camille was very deeply offended by this article. 
As usual he retorted without the slightest considera- 
tion, and his retort took the form of a most scurrilous 
pamphlet, entitled " Jean-Pierre Brissot Unmasked." 

It was a cruel and uncalled-for attack on Brissot's 
personal character and public policy, in the main 
untrue, or grossly exaggerated, but cleverly enough 
written to be exceedingly injurious. A certain 
amount of the mud stuck, and people remembered 
Camille's cutting phrases and well-turned epigrams, 
and used them with deadly effect later, when Brissot 
and his party had fallen from popular favour. 

There was an old story against Brissot which may 
or may not have been partially true, but which, in 
any case, might well have been suffered to rest in 
oblivion. It was said that, many years before, he had 
obtained money under false pretences, by means of 
subscriptions for the publication of a book which never 
appeared. In consequence amongst the lower ranks 
of journalists the verb " brissoter " had been invented 
to express this particular kind of cheating. 

Camille brought up this story afresh, he refers to it 
again and again, and for an epigraph to the pamphlet 
he used the quotation from the Psalms : " Factus sum 
in proverbium " — " I am become a proverb." 

It would scarcely be possible to conceive a crueller 
allusion, made all the more so by its very aptness and 

The pamphlet had the success which generally falls 
to a scurrilous personal attack. Moreover, it seemed 
to have the effect of awakening Camille's appetite for 
writing. Only a month or two later, in April, 1792, 
we find him collaborating with Freron in the publica- 
tion of a new journal, " Le Tribune des Patriotes." 

Only four numbers of this paper appeared ; it 


ceased to exist at the end of May, but it is interesting 
as showing an alteration in the state o£ pubHc opinion. 

Men were beginning to pluck up courage, but a 
curious phase now set in. The old Republican party, 
led by such as Lafayette, Lameth and Bailly, had 
fallen into disrepute, and there was no properly organ- 
ised new Republican party to take its place as yet. 

Camille expresses the state of affairs in very plain 
and unvarnished terms in the first number of the 
"Tribune desPatriotes," published on April 30th, 1792. 

" If I go to the Jacobins," he says, " and if I take aside one 
of those determined Republicans who always have the word 
' Republic ' in their mouths : Brissot or G. Boisguyon, for 
example ; if I question him concerning Lafayette, he replies 
in my ear : ' Lafayette, I assure you, is more Republican than 
Sidney ; a greater Republican than Washington ; he has 
absolutely assured me of it a hundred times.' And pressing 
my hand : ' Brother, how is it that thou, Camille Desmoulins, 
who in " France Libre " didst, the first of all, argue in favour 
of the Repubhc ; how is it that to-day, while for Lafayette 
nothing will do but the Republic, the whole Republic, and 
nothing but the Republic, thou dost insist on marring his task 
and decrying it ? ' " 

Camille was, at this period, the spokesman in the 
Press for Robespierre and his policy, and echoed his 
fears of the " Fayettist, Cromwellian republicanism " 
— " the aristocratic Republic of La Fayette and his 
military government." 

As to Camille himself, he is for the Nation, he tells 
us ; for the party of the friends of the Constitution. 

" The true Jacobins are of this party, because they want not 
the name of the Repubhc, but the thing ; because they do not 
forget that in the Revolution of 1649 England, under the name 
of a Republic, was governed monarchically, or rather as a 
mihtary despotism by Cromwell ; and that France in the 
Revolution of 1789, though called a Republic, became a 
republican government. . . . Heaven preserve us from the 
republic of Lafayette ! This word Republic which Cromwell 
had everlastingly in his mouth does not deceive me." 


M. Aulard sums up the situation as follows : — 

" It is thus that in April and May, 1792, the old Republican 
party, however dumb and resigned to the monarchy, was 
disowned by its famous chronicler Camille Desmoulins, and 
that the republic was denounced as anti-revolutionary by the 
most popular and most important of the democrats, Robes- 
pierre. After this defection and this anathema people scarcely 
dared pronounce the word ' republic,' which is why there was 
no republican demonstration on June 20th, 1792." 

There is a curious fact to be mentioned in connec- 
tion with the short-lived " Tribune des Patriotes." 
The joint editors, Camille and Stanislas Freron, asked 
Marat to be their collaborator in the publication of 
the journal. Such a step as this either points to a real 
change in Camille's policy, or to the fact that he was 
conscious of the necessity of affecting such a change. 

Hitherto there had been little or no pretence of 
sympathy between Marat and his younger contempo- 
rary. The serious violence of the " Ami du Peuple " 
did not appeal to Camille. As a modern writer, 
Mr. Philip Gibbs has said : " Desmoulins had none of 
this relentlessness of nature. His audacity was in- 
tellectual, not instinctive." 

Indeed, in the " Revolutions de France et de 
Brabant " Camille had frequently employed the power 
of his ridicule against Marat, pleading that he must 
not be taken seriously and calling him derisively 
" Fenfant perdu de la presse patriote," " Cassandre 
Marat," " le prophete Marat." Again we find Camille 
quoting from a fiery article in the " Ami du Peuple," 
but appending to the extract the following imaginary 
conversation : " Who has written this ? " — " Marat." 
— " Marat ! at this name terror vanishes — one breathes 

A little later the young journalist repudiated Marat's 
policy in a more serious and dignified manner. He is 
commenting on the demand in the " Ami du Peuple " 


for " five or six hundred heads " and he concludes his 
article by saying : — 

" For myself you know that long ago I resigned the post of 
Procureur-General to the Lanterne. I think that this great 
office, like the dictatorship, ought to last only for a day and 
sometimes only for an hour." 

A printer's error served to increase Marat's rather 
natural rancour against his fellow-journalist. In No. 
73 of the " Revolutions " Camille announced that 
Marat had demanded a passport " pour aller exercer 
I'apostolat de la liberte en Angleterre." By an un- 
fortunate mistake the word " apostolat " was printed 
" apostat," and as a result Marat inveighed against 
Camille for the supposed intentional insult in eight 
pages of the " Ami du Peuple." 

The younger man answered with cutting scorn in 
the next issue of his paper, explaining the mistake, it 
is true, but scarcely in a propitiatory manner. 

" Listen, Marat," he says. " I permit you to say all the harsh 
things to me that you please. You write in a cellar, where the 
air is not likely to give you gay ideas. ... I declare to you that 
as long as I perceive that you rave in defence of the Revolution 
I shall persist in praising you, because I think that we ought to 
defend liberty, like the town of St.-Malo, not only with men 
but with dogs." 

Since Marat made no further protests it would 
appear that he tacitly accepted the fact that the error 
on this occasion was the fault of the printer. Never- 
theless, his anger rankled, and when Freron and 
Camille asked for his collaboration, Marat declined 
their offer in these words : — 

" L'aigle va toujours seul, mais le dindon fait troupe." 

In the meantime, the experiment of the Bourgeois 
Monarchy had not been successful. The Assembly 
could not legislate, because the King had exercised 
his power of veto. It was the last relic of power 


which the new Constitution had left to Louis, and it 
was only to be expected that he would make use of it. 
Indeed, he would have been something less than a 
man if, placed as he was, he had not done so. 

The first decree which the King vetoed was the 
stringent law against the emigrants, a decree which 
disinherited Louis' own brother and declared him and 
many others guilty of high treason. And secondly, he 
vetoed the decree against the non-juring priests, who 
had not taken the oath to support the Constitution. 

In all things which touched his religion, the King 
felt with a strength and fervour which would have been 
marked in any age ; at the time in which he lived it 
was almost unheard of. He observed the rites and 
ceremonies of the Church with a simple piety which 
nothing could lessen or alter. It was the same up to 
the day of his death ; the religion which could govern 
and control his actions during those last terrible weeks 
was a real and living thing. 

Consequently when the priests, the ministers of his 
religion, were threatened, Louis opposed the measure 
firmly and definitely. He further vetoed a third 
decree by which the Assembly had intended to estab- 
lish a large camp of federal volunteers outside Paris. 

All this opposition exasperated the people more and 
more. Of what use was it, they said, for the King to 
accept the Constitution, since he now opposed all the 
legislative measures of the Assembly ? The emigrants 
and the priests were the enemies of the country. The 
King made himself one with them when he supported 
their cause. 

To add to these internal troubles a new peril from 
without threatened France. The Duke of Brunswick, 
in command of the armies of the Allies, was mustering 
his forces on the frontier. In this strait what would the 
King do ? His own brothers were amongst the leaders 
of the invading armies ; it was his own people whom 
he had sworn to defend, who were about to be invaded. 


He did that which the country desired of him, but 
he did it with an ill grace. With tears in his eyes and 
in a broken voice, he announced at the Assembly that 
war was declared against the Coalition on April 20th. 
He acted at the instigation of the Girondins, who 
dominated the Assembly and at this time formed his 

Louis' nomination of these ministers at the end of 
March had been a popular move. For the moment it 
had caused a reaction in his favour. The people had 
unbounded confidence in Roland as Minister of the 
Interior, in Dumouriez at the head of the affairs of 
War. According to some historians, Thiers amongst 
the number, the Court supported these nominations 
because they hoped that the Girondin Ministry would 
soon discredit itself and prove to be weak in the face 
of danger. If this was indeed the case, their expecta- 
tions were doomed to disappointment. As to the 
Queen, she probably hoped to find in Dumouriez a 
second Mirabeau, another Monk. Indeed, if his 
services had been paid for highly enough these hopes 
of hers might have been realised. 

All through the first six months of 1792 this dis- 
content against the King and against the old con- 
stitutional revolutionaries grew and increased. We 
have seen how Camille voiced it in the four numbers 
of the " Tribune des Patriotes." Since that time he 
had written little, with the exception of the " Brissot 

Nevertheless, he was busy in other ways. Writing 
to his father on April 3rd, Camille says that he has 
again taken up his ancient profession of the law, to 
which he consecrates all the time that is left to him 
by his municipal and electoral functions and by the 
Jacobins, that is to say, only a very few moments. He 
adds vaingloriously : — 

*' It is painful to me to plead bourgeois causes after having 
been concerned in such great interests and in public affairs 


in the face of all Europe. I have held the balance of powers ; 
I have raised or abased the chief personages of the Revolution. 
Those whom I have abased will never pardon me." 

There was much truth in these last words, truth 
which was to be brought home forcibly to Camille a 
little later. 

It seems, then, that the journalist was a very 
prominent member of both the Jacobin and Cordelier 
Clubs, and it was at this time that these two great 
associations became really powerful. They began to 
dominate the Assembly instead of merely acting as 
forcing-grounds for its orators. Through its affiliated, 
branches the Jacobin Club became one of the ruling 
powers of France. 

The Cordeliers were even more advanced than the 
Jacobins, for the moment, and here Danton's was the 
dominant personality. The Clubs were working in 
conjunction with the sections of Paris and the Muni- 
cipality, for the Municipality was now a violently 
anti-royalist and democratic body. Bailly and his 
supporters no longer held the civic offices. With the 
November elections of 1791 a new era had begun, and 
Jerome Petion was Mayor, a man immensely popular 
with the lower classes of Paris. 

Danton was also a corporation official ; as Pro- 
curator-Substitute he had larger opportunities than 
ever, a wider scope for his talents as an organiser and a 

There seems to have been a universal consciousness 
throughout Paris that some definite plot was on foot. 
Secret committees were formed, but it is difficult to 
gather what were their exact aims, or even who com- 
posed them. We know that Camille was a member of 
one such committee, probably the very same which 
assisted to engineer the day of August loth. 

The popular demonstration of June 20th was not 
in any way organised by those in authority. They 
allowed it, it is true, but once it was fairly under way 


it is probable that the officials were frightened at the 
dangerous possibilities of this horde of people who 
invaded and overran the Tuileries. At the moment, 
as we shall see, the party to which Camille belonged 
considered that the time was not ripe for insurrection ; 
they were awaiting their opportunity, and any prema- 
ture action might ruin all their plans. 

The dissatisfaction against the Court party had 
grown more pronounced during the third week of 
June. In consequence of that ever-recurring veto the 
Rolands, husband and wife, had written their famous 
and outspoken letter to the King, a letter which one 
could scarcely expect the meekest monarch in the 
world to receive tamely. 

Louis' answer had been for once prompt and to the 
point. On June 13th the bulk of the " Patriot 
Ministry " were summarily dismissed, much to the 
indignation of the people. 

The ostensible object of the procession on June 20th 
was to plant a tree of Liberty in commemoration of 
the anniversary of the " Tennis Court Oath " upon 
the terrace of the Feuillants. The object which 
certainly seems to have been kept in view by a large 
proportion of the mob was to endeavour to intimidate 
the King into removing his veto and recalling the 
Patriot ministers. 

At one time it needed very little to make the crowd 
dangerous. Any hesitation or shrinking on the part 
of the King, any active reprisals from those who were 
still his friends, and the scenes of August loth might 
have been enacted before their time, and even more 

But on June 20th the huge mob were, on the whole, 
good-tempered. Above all, the King, to do him 
justice, behaved bravely and wisely. He took his stand 
in a prominent position, he refused to be intimidated, 
he even joked with some of the ringleaders. When the 
crowd demanded of him the revocation of his veto, he 


answered with dignity that this was not the time to 
ask it. 

When Petion appeared upon the scene, rather late 
in the day, Louis gave him to understand clearly 
that he considered him, as Mayor, to be responsible 
for what had occurred. As a matter of fact, Petion 
was immediately afterwards suspended from his office. 

Camille took no active part in the demonstration, 
but he was present throughout amidst the crowd, and 
at the beginning of July he published his views on the 
occasion in a pamphlet entitled " Reflexions sur le 
20 Juin 1792." 

This pamphlet is of great interest, since it shows 
that the comparatively conciliatory and temperate 
tone of the populace upon June 20th was in accordance, 
as we have said, with the policy which the extreme 
revolutionaries wished at the moment to pursue. 

" It is certain," says Camille, " that all parties desired an 
insurrection ; but also that those among the Jacobins who have 
hitherto been least deceived in their political judgments upon 
men and events were apprehensive of the results of that 
insurrection. We saw plainly that violence would only profit 
those at Coblenz or Lafayette or other ambitious persons 
and would not serve the cause of liberty in the least. ... I 
made every possible effort at the Jacobins to secure that this 
raising of the shields should not be anything more serious than 
a comminatory insurrection. Although I rarely claim my 
turn at the Jacobins, I spoke at three consecutive meetings on 
the following text : ' Nothing is more likely to ruin the 
affairs of the Jacobins than a partial insurrection.' ... I 
especially recommended that the insurrection should be calm 
and that we should display a profound attachment to the 
Constitution. I pointed out that royalty was decaying day 
by day, that the life of Louis XVI was valuable to the Jacobins, 
that if he died we ought to have him stuffed, as Mirabeau said ; 
and that the very best thing which could happen would be 
that he should dismiss the Jacobin ministers and send for others 
from Coblenz." 


MEANTIME, in spite of all that was pass- 
ing in the world of politics, many things 
had occurred to absorb Camille in that 
other life of his, that home life in which 
so much the better side of him appears. 

Although his pecuniary circumstances had so much 
improved at the time of his marriage, we learn by the 
letter to his father on April 3rd, from which we have 
already quoted, that Camille was now in want of ready 
money. M. Desmoulins, reversing the old condition 
of things, had written to his eldest son asking him to 
help him in the purchase of the family house at Guise. 
Camille excuses himself on the score that since the 
discontinuance of his journal he has had no balance in 
hand. In fact, as he says, if he only possessed the money 
he should have started another paper long before this. 
Furthermore, he tells his father that, at the moment, 
he needs all the available cash at his disposal. 

" At any time now I may have a child, and I feel already the 
cares of paternity in the expense of the layette and the tender 
solicitude of the mother, who concerns herself with the needs 
of her son, and loves him so as almost to make me jealous," 

It is easy to picture Camille's anxiety and excite- 
ment as the time for the birth of his child drew near. 
He was never a man to take things quietly, least of all 
such an event as this. 

On July 6th, 1792, at nine o'clock in the morning, 
Horace-Camille Desmoulins was born, the baby who 
was never really to know either his father or mother, 



who it is scarcely probable could even remember them 
in after years. It is possible that " the little Horace " 
may have had dim memories of that beautiful young 
mother, who must have seemed to his baby brain like 
some pictured angel as she bent over his cradle. 
Perhaps he vaguely remembered that boyish, excitable 
father, with brilliant dark eyes, who would romp with 
his " little lizard " in the evenings, rolling with him 
on the floor in peals of laughter, while Danton sat by 
quietly smiling and thinking of his own boys at the old 
home in Arcis-sur-Aube. 

There is something very piteous in those words of 
Camille's which we shall read in his last letter to 
Lucile : " I would have been a good father." It is 
easy to believe that this is true : nay, more, it is easy 
to believe that he was a good father, as far as was 
possible to him during the short time that lay between 
the birth of little Horace and his own death. 

On July 8th a ceremony took place at the Hotel de 
Ville when Camille, escorted by Laurent Lecointre 
and Anthoine Merlin (de Thionville) presented his 
little son to the Municipality of Paris, as the first child 
to be entered in the new civic register of births, 
superseding those of parishes. On the birth certificate 
Camille wrote with his own hand the following rather 
grandiloquent pronouncement : — 

" As religious freedom has been decreed by the Constitution 
and as by a decree of the Legislative Assembly relative to the 
manner of establishing the civil estate of citizens otherwise 
than by religious ceremonies, an altar ought to be raised in 
each municipality on which a father, accompanied by two 
witnesses, can offer his children to the country; the person 
present wishing to use the provisions of the law and desiring 
to spare himself, one day, on the part of his son, the reproach 
of having bound him by oath to reHgious opinions which he 
could not yet hold and made him enter on life with an in- 
consequent choice between the nine hundred and odd religions 
which divide mankind, at a time when he could not even 
distinguish his mother." 


This portentous sentence does more honour to 
Camilla's impartiality than to his sense of literary 
style ; it is typical, however, o£ a kind of phraseology 
which was very prevalent at the time. 

Camille's pride in the little boy was unbounded. 
He writes enthusiastically to his father on July 9th, 
telling him of the event, and concluding : " And I too 
have a child ! My only wish is that he may one day 
love me as much as I love my father." 

Later the baby was sent away to the same nurse at 
L'lle Adam (Seine-et-Oise) who had charge of the 
little Danton. This was then the invariable practice 
with mothers of Lucile's class, and it was perhaps well 
that the baby should be far from Paris during the 
stress and fury of the next few months. As soon as she 
was well enough to be moved Camille took Lucile to 
the little honeymoon country house of theirs at 
Bourg-la-Reine, and it was here that she remained 
with her mother until August 8th. 

Camille himself spent most of this time in Paris. 
There was much for him to do, for the blazing heat of 
that July weather seemed only like a physical sign of 
the greater fever within. 

The Army of the Allies was gathering upon the 
frontier. On July nth was heard for the first time 
that ominous declaration decreed by the Assembly : 
" Citizens, the Country is in danger ! " Everywhere 
men read the manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick, 
insufferably insolent in tone and wording alike. 
Everywhere Royalist cartoons were disseminated, which 
held up the Republican party to ridicule. One of 
these caricatures must have been intensely irritating to 
Camille. It was entitled the " Thaw," and showed the 
revolutionaries flying in all directions terrified, while be- 
neath their feet the ice of their new world cracked and 
broke. Amongst the fugitives " Janot Desmoulins " 
was to be seen, wearing the red woollen cap of the 
" sansculottes" andimpededby the weight of his lantern. 


These and similar insults stirred the Jacobins to 
fury : the sections of Paris already displayed a most 
threatening spirit. 

Baulked in their effort to establish a permanent 
camp outside Paris, the Assembly had obtained their 
purpose and foiled the King by an adroit counter- 
move. From all parts of France little columns of 
Federal troops were marching, to take part in the cele- 
bration of the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille. 
By July 14th a large number of these provincials had 

The King was present at the Festival, but he was 
greeted with ominous murmurs, and it was noticed 
that he looked pale and sullen. There was a rival King 
to receive all the applause of the crowd. Jerome 
Petion, the popular idol, was once more reinstated as 
Mayor of Paris. He was cheered when he appeared 
on the Champ-de-Mars, and men and women wore his 
name or his portrait as a badge that day, pinned on 
their breasts or in their hats, the word " Petion " 
being sometimes coupled with the ominous phrase 
' Ou la mort ! " 

The presence of the Federal troops in Paris still 
further excited the populace. These enthusiastic, 
hot-headed provincials from the South and the far 
North-West brought a fresh element into the city. 
They were like a spark set to dry tinder. 

It was not until some days after the Champ-de- 
Mars fete, however, that the most important of these 
detached bodies of federals arrived in the capital. 
This was that little troop of Marseillais patriots, invited 
by their fellow-countryman Barbaroux, whom his- 
torians, novelists and poets have since made so famous. 

These men are sometimes erroneously represented 
as belonging to the lowest classes of the community. 
In reality they would seem to have been mainly 
artisans, retired non-commissioned officers, or men 
of even higher rank.' 


All through the blazing July days they journeyed 
northwards, dragging with them two pieces of cannon, 
and singing — singing always as they went a new song, 
but lately learnt, and which the countryside heard 
now for the first time. That song is living yet, with a 
mighty power still to stir the nerves and souls of men. 
It is known to us now, as it was known then, by the 
name of the " Hymn of the Marseillaise." 

The Marseillais federals arrived in Paris on July 29th. 
At Charenton they were met by Barbaroux, Santerre 
and others, who entertained them to dinner at the 
inn of the " Cabran d'Or." They received an enthusi- 
astic welcome in the capital. The infectious rhythm 
of their song was to be heard in every street, voicing 
the surging discontent in men's hearts. 

The men of Marseilles fraternised with their 
comrades from Brest and Calvados, fraternised too 
with their poorer brothers of the fauxbourgs St. 
Antoine and St. Marceau. There were public feasts 
on the site of the heretofore Bastille, much dancing, 
and speeches no doubt from Barbaroux and Fauchet, 
the ex-bishop of Calvados. 

And under it all, beneath this effervescing surface, a 
plan was working, a great organised plot was being 
formed which would presently take shape and action. 
The leaders of the Revolution were about to make use 
of the power of the people, for the insurrection of 
August loth was essentially a popular movement, a 
movement not of any one section, or body of men, 
but of Paris, nay, of France itself, led and organised 
by the Municipality of the capital city. 

We may be practically certain that Camille was very 
deeply involved in the preparations for the day of 
August loth. We know that Danton was the great 
mover in the insurrection, later he was to glory in that 
fact. Camille's association with Danton was very 
close at this time, all the more so, because Robespierre, 
his other chief ally, kept almost entirely in the back- 


ground. This attitude o£ Robespierre's has been the 
subject of much comment from his apologists and 
enemies alike, and many suggestions have been brought 
forward to account for his withdrawal from public 
affairs at this juncture. 

The most probable hypothesis would seem to be that 
Robespierre was afraid. Not that he was exactly a 
coward. He forced himself to act with both moral 
and physical courage on many occasions, but there was 
a timid strain in his nature against which he could not 
always contend. 

We can gather very little concerning the events of 
August and the part which he played in them from 
Camille's own writings. He scarcely mentions the 
insurrection in his letters to his father, and he was, of 
course, at the moment editing no journal in which to 
record his personal impressions. 

During the first week of August he wrote to Lucile, 
who was still at Bourg-la-Reine, a letter which tells 
us something of his own doings. 

" My good Lucile," he says, " don't cry, I beg, because 
you do not see your Monsieur Hon. I am up to the neck 
in the Revolution. How you would have been pleased to 
see me in the municipal cavalcade. This was the first time I 
played a part in public ; I was as proud as Don Quixote. 
Nevertheless, my good Rouleau, my Cachan hen, was sitting 
up behind me. My God, don't love me so much, sweetheart, 
since it makes you suffer such a lot. I dined at Robespierre's 
to-day and talked ever so much about Rouleau, Rouleau, my 
poor Rouleau. Now, I am finishing my speech, for I am told 
off to read it to the Municipality on Tuesday. The Rentiers 
of the general council are desperately frightened by a few words 
which I spoke yesterday in the Tribune, and which were much 

" I have consecrated my day by proclaiming on my horse 
in the midst of three thousand National Guards and twenty 
pieces of cannon, the danger of the Fatherland. I do not dare 
to talk to you about the baby, lest I should bring the tears to 
your eyes. It is eleven o'clock. I write so that you may have 


my letter to-morrow ; I am going to rest, but you will not lay 
your arm round my neck. I shall make haste with my speech 
that I may fly to your arms. Adieu, my good angel, my 
Lolotte, mother of the little lizard. Kiss Daronne and Horace 
for me." 

This letter, tender and playful as it is, would 
certainly seem to show that Camille was taking a 
fairly prominent part in public affairs. The speech 
which he mentions to Lucile is extant, and proves 
definitely that a decisive blow was meditated and even 
spoken of openly without concealment. After pro- 
claiming in eloquent language his dreams of universal 
brotherhood, of fraternity between the " disdainful 
bourgeois " and the proletariat, Camille concludes with 
these bold words : — 

" So soon as the tocsin is sounded let all the nation assemble ; 
let each man, as in Rome, be invested with the right to punish 
known conspirators with death ; and one single day of anarchy 
will do more for the security of liberty and the salvation of the 
country than four years of a National Assembly." 

" The right to punish known conspirators with 
death." It is probable that Camille lived to regret 
those words of his — words which were translated into 
practice in the days of the September massacres. 

After this letter, written some days before the 
insurrection, we learn practically nothing from Camille 
himself as to his doings, until after the downfall of the 
monarchy. But the blank in the husband's writings 
is filled in by the wife. Lucile Desmoulins had kept a 
diary from her earliest girlhood, and at this time it is 
of inestimable value, since it helps us to know how the 
events of August 9th and loth affected her and Camille. 

We cannot do better than give here the passages 
in that manuscript pocket-book of Lucile's which 
refer to these days. Her vivid, simple words, the little 
homely details which no imagination could invent, 
enable us to picture the scenes of that terrible time 


far better than could be done with the aid of volumes 
of descriptive writing. 

As we have already said, Lucile had been staying at 
Bourg-la-Reine for some weeks past. It was on August 
8th that she returned to Paris. 

" August 9th, 1792. What will become of us ? I can 
endure no more. Camille, O my poor Camille, what will 
become of you ? I have no strength to breathe. This night, 
this fatal night ! O God, if it be true that thou hast any 
existence, save the men who are worthy of Thee. We want to 
be free. O God, the cost of it ! As a climax to my misery, 
courage abandons me. 

" What a gap since the 9th of August ! What things have 
happened ! What a volume I should have filled if I had con- 
tinued ! How can I recall so many events ? Never mind, I 
am going to remember something of what passed. 

" I had come back from the country on August 8th. The 
pubhc mind was already in a ferment. An attempt had been 
made to assassinate Robespierre. On the 9th I had some of the 
Marseillais to dinner and we amused ourselves pretty well. 
After dinner we all went to Danton's. The mother was crying ; 
she looked very sad ; the child had a bewildered look. Danton 
was resolute. As to me, I laughed like a madcap. They were 
afraid the affair would not take place. Although I was not at 
all sure, I said to them, as if I knew all about it, that it would 
come to pass. 

" ' How can anyone laugh like that ? ' Madame Danton said. 

" ' Alas,' I replied, ' it is a sign that I shall shed many tears 
this evening.' 

" We were to take Madame Charpentier home that night. 
The weather was fine ; we strolled about the street ; it was 
crowded with people. We returned and seated ourselves outside 
the cafe.* Many sansculottes passed crying : ' Long live the 
Nation ! ' then cavalry, afterwards immense crowds. Fear 
seized me. I said to Madame Danton : ' Let us go.' She 
laughed at my dread, but, by dint of speaking of it, she was 
frightened in her turn, and we departed. I said to her mother : 
' Good-bye, it will not be long before you hear the tocsin.' 

* Gabrielle Charpentier, Danton's iirst wife, was the daughter of 
the keeper of the Cafe des Ecoles. 


On arriving at the Dantons' rooms, I saw there Madame 
Robert and many others. 

" Very soon I saw that they were arming themselves. 
Camille, my dear Camille, came in with a gun. O God ! 
I hid myself in an alcove ; I covered my face with my two 
hands and began to weep ; however, as I did not want to show 
so much weakness, or to tell Camille aloud that I did not wish 
him to mix himself up with all this, I watched for a moment 
when I might speak to him without being overheard and tell 
him all my fears. He reassured me by saying that he would 
not leave Danton. I have learnt since then that he exposed 
himself to danger. 

" Danton was agitated. I ran to Madame Robert saying : 
' Will they sound the tocsin ? ' ' Yes,' she said to me. ' It will 
be to-night.' I heard all this and did not say a word. 

" Freron had the air of one determined to perish. ' I am 
tired of life,' said he. ' I only seek to die.' Each patrol which 
came, I thought to see them for the last time, I went to conceal 
myself in the salon, which was unlighted, that I might not see 
all these preparations. Nobody in the street. All the world 
had retired. Our patriots departed. I was seated near a bed, 
overwhelmed, bewildered, dozing sometimes, and when I 
wished to speak, I wandered. Danton went to lie down. He 
did not appear to be much concerned ; he scarcely ever went 
out. Midnight approached. They came to seek him many 
times ; at last he departed for the Couimune. 

" The tocsin of the Cordeliers rang ; it rang for a long time. 
Alone, bathed in tears, on my knees by the window, my face 
covered with my handkerchief, I listened to the sound of that 
fatal bell. In vain they tried to console me. The day which 
had preceded this fatal night seemed to me to have been my 

" Danton returned. Madame Robert, who was very troubled 
concerning her husband, who had gone to the Luxembourg, 
where he had been sent by his section, ran to Danton, who 
only replied to her very vaguely. He threw himself upon his 

" They came many times to give us good and bad news. I 
thought I saw their project was to go to the Tuileries. I said 
so, sobbing. I felt as though as I should faint. In vain Madame 
Robert demanded news of her husband ; no one could give 
any. She believed that he would march with the faubourg. 


' If he perishes,' she said to me, ' I will not survive him. But 
this Danton — ^he is the rallying-point ! If my husband 
perishes, I am the woman to stab him ! ' Her eyes rolled ; 
from that moment I never quitted her. How could I tell what 
might happen ? How did I know of what she was capable ? 

" We passed the night thus in cruel agitations. Camille 
returned at one o'clock ; he slept leaning upon my shoulder. 
Madame Danton sat beside me, and seemed prepared to hear 
of the death of her husband. ' No,' she said to me, ' I cannot 
remain here,' Daylight being come, I proposed that she should 
rest near me. Camille lay down on the bed. I put a couch 
in the salon, with a mattress and a quilt; she threw herself 
upon it and took some repose. For myself, I lay down and 
dozed, although the sound of the tocsin was heard on all sides. 

" We rose ; Camille departed, leaving me in the hope that 
he would not expose himself. We ate some breakfast. Ten 
o'clock, eleven o'clock passed, without our knowing anything. 
We took some of the journals of the evening before and tried 
to read them, seated upon the sofa in the salon. As she read 
me an article, it seemed to me that a cannon was fired. I heard 
soon many more shots without saying anything ; they became 
more frequent. I said to her : ' They are firing cannon ! ' 
She listened, she heard, and growing as pale as death, she 
fainted away. I loosened her clothes. Myself, I was ready to 
fall unconscious, but the necessity of helping her gave me 
strength. She came to herself. Jeannette cried like a mad 
thing. She wished to thrash a passer-by who said that Camille 
was the cause of all this. We heard crying and weeping in the 
street, we believed that Paris was full of bloodshed. 

" We encouraged each other and we departed to go and seek 
out Danton. They cried : ' To arms ! ' and ran hither and 
thither. We found the door of the Cour de Commerce closed. 
We knocked and shouted, but nobody came to open it. We 
wished to get out through a baker's shop ; he shut the door in 
our faces. I was furious ; at last they let us through. We 
were a long time without knowing anything. However, they 
came to tell us that we were victors. At one o'clock several 
came to relate what had passed. Some of the Marseillais had 
been killed. But the accounts were cruel. 

" Camille arrived and told me that the first head which he 
had seen fall was that of Suleau. Robert was at the Hotel de 
Ville, and had before him the frightful spectacle of the 


massacred Swiss, He came after dinner and told us a fearful 
account of what he had seen, and all day long we heard of 
nothing else, save what had happened. 

" The following day, the eleventh, we saw the convoy of the 
Marseillais. O God, what a sight ! Our hearts were torn. 
Camille and I slept with the Roberts that night. I do not 
know why I was so frightened ; it seemed to me that we 
should not be safe at home. The next day, the twelfth, on our 
return I learnt that Danton was made Minister." 

Such an account as this of Lucile Desmoulins needs 
no comment. It is as though the girl spoke to us 
herself in those simple, unaffected sentences. We feel 
as though we saw Lucile before us in the Dantons' 
room that terrible evening, laughing like a madcap, 
because if she did not laugh, she needs must weep. 
There is something extraordinarily lovable in that 
tender tactfulness which would not make Camille 
appear foolish by imploring him, in the presence of 
his friends, to be careful. It speaks worlds for the 
confidence which they all felt in Danton that Lucile 
appears to have been almost reassured on hearing 
that her husband would not leave that strong, trusty 
friend of his, although this certainly did not infer 
that Camille would thereby be kept out of danger's 

After all, these pages from the young wife's diary, 
showing a great episode of history from the point of 
view of the women who waited to hear the upshot of 
the fight, is of greater interest than any cut-and-dried 
description. It is so plain throughout that, for the 
moment, Lucile Desmoulins, Gabrielle Danton and 
Madame Robert cared very little what was to be the 
issue of the day. What mattered it if their cause was 
won, if it meant the loss of their husbands ? For 
women are made like that. 

As to the actual details of the attack upon the 
Tuileries on August loth, one may read of it in the 
pages of a hundred historians of every possible shade 


of opinion. We know how in great surges the men of 
the fauxbourgs beat against the Palace, led hy the 
Federals of Brest and Marseilles. We have heard how 
the King vacillated, countermanded his own orders, 
finally took refuge with the Assembly, accompanied 
by his whole family. We know of that reiterated 
command of his that the Swiss Guard were not to 
fire on the people, a command well meant, no doubt, 
but which spelt sheer murder as far as these faithful 
servants of his were concerned. 

Best knowledge of all, we have each one of us read 
how the Swiss died, faithful to the last, falling where 
they made their last stand on the great staircase of the 
Tuileries. Their memorial is written on the pages of 
history ; it is written even more imperishably in 
stone by the shores of the blue lake in the land of their 

We can learn little or nothing of Camille's exact 
share in the fight, although we know that he took an 
active part. Since he was with Danton, he was 
probably in the forefront of the attack ; beyond that 
we can gather few details. 

There is one story of his conduct which appears to 
be well authenticated and which one would certainly 
like to believe was true. It is quoted in F. Hamel's 
life of Theroigne de Mericourt. 

In spite of their violently opposed opinions, in spite 
of their jeers and scoffs at each other in their respective 
papers, it would seem that Camille and Suleau, once 
school-fellows, now brother journalists, had always 
remained friends. It is said that Suleau told an 
acquaintance named La Sourd on the morning of 
August 9th that Camille had just warned him of the 
extreme danger which he (Suleau) ran. The Revolu- 
tionary journalist, as one of the organisers of the 
movement, of course realised only too well the 
imminent peril of the hot-headed Royalist writer. 
Acting on a generous and almost quixotic impulse, 


Camille invited his old school friend to take refuge 
with him until the danger should be past. Suleau 
refused the offer, and, as is well known, he was assassi- 
nated by Theroigne de Mericourt on the morning 
of August loth. Lucile tells us, as we have seen, that 
Camille actually witnessed the murder. Furthermore, 
she says that her husband observed to Suleau the day 
before : " You are going to fight for the King to- 
morrow ; then you will be hanged." 

After the sack of the Tuileries Palace Lucile was 
brought her share of the spoil. She tells us that she 
received some of the articles from the unfortunate 
Queen's toilet-table, such as brushes, mirrors and 
sponges. In common with many men and women of 
her time and class, Camille's young wife had hitherto 
felt an almost impersonal hatred of Marie-Antoinette ; 
now, for the first time, she seems to have been touched 
wth pity. 

Indeed, what wife and mother as tender-hearted as 
was Lucile could have failed to pity the misfortunes 
of that sorrowful woman, a queen no longer. 



"^HE French Monarchy had fallen once and 
for all. Henceforth there was no more 
question of reinstating Louis as King. He 
and his whole family were literally im- 
prisoned now in the Tower of the Temple, as they 
had been for long prisoners in reality in the more 
splendid dungeon of the Tuileries. 

It remained now to decide what was to be done with 
this heretofore King of France, from henceforth to 
be named only " Citizen Capet." This decision, 
together with many others, did not rest with the 
present Assembly, nor with the Revolutionary 
Commune, now masters of Paris. It would be the 
task of the National Convention, so soon to be 
elected, to resolve upon the fate of the King and 
his family. 

Meanwhile France must be governed, and to that 
end a Provisional Executive Council was formed on 
August 13th, beginning its functions on that day. It 
consisted of six ministers, each of whom presided for a 
week in turn as President. These Ministers were 
chosen by the Legislative Assembly, and the first to be 
elected was Danton, as Minister of Justice. The 
other members of the Council were Monge, Minister 
of Marine, Lebrun, who was responsible for Foreign 
Affairs, Roland, for those of the Interior, Servan, 
Minister of War, and Claviere, at the Ministry of the 
Bureau of Public Taxes. 

During the short time that he held office, Danton 
was the real head of the Executive Council, and the 



meetings were held at his quarters in the Ministry of 

Danton named Camille as his Secretary-General, 
and the journalist at once took up the duties o£ that 
post. He speaks of his new position in an almost 
despondent fashion, in spite of his obvious pride, 
when he writes to his father on August 15 th. 

" You have learnt from the journals the news of August loth. 
It only remains for me to tell you of that which concerns 
myself. My friend, Danton, has become Minister of Justice, 
by the grace of the cannon ; this bloody day meant for both of 
us that we should rise or fall together. He said in the National 
Assembly : ' If I had been vanquished, I should have been a 

" The cause of liberty has triumphed. Behold me living in 
the Palace of Maupeou and of Lamoignon. In spite of all your 
predictions that I should never do anything, I see myself raised 
to the topmost rung of the ladder attainable by one of our 
profession, and far from being more vain, I am much less so 
than ten years ago, because I value much less than then, the 
imagination, the warmth, the talent and the patriotism, 
which I did not distinguish from the sensibility, the humanity 
and the love of one's kind that the years lessen. They have 
not cooled in me my filial love, and your son, become secretary- 
general of the department of justice and that which one calls 
secretary to the seals, hopes not to be long before he gives you 
the marks of this. I believe liberty to be ensured by the 
revolution of the loth of August. It remains for us to render 
France happy and flourishing as well as free. It is to this that 
I am about to consecrate my night watches." 

Later Camille cannot resist a little outburst of 
triumph, when he thinks of the way in which he has 
vindicated himself before his fellow-townsfolk. 

" How the people of Guise, so full of envy, hatred and petty 
passions, will burst with bitterness to-day ! " 

But afterwards comes the strange note of despon- 
dency : " It has but rendered me more than ever 
melancholy and anxious and made me feel more keenly 


all the ills of my fellow-citizens and the miseries of 
human life." 

In connection with Camille's nomination as Secre- 
tary to the Minister of Justice, a curious incident and 
one characteristic of the time is related by M. Lenotre 
in his volume " The Tribunal of the Terror." 

He publishes a letter written to Camille immedi- 
ately after August loth by Fouquier-Tinville. The 
future Public Prosecutor of evil notoriety appeals to 
the young man as his " dear relative " (it appears 
that they were distantly related through the family of 
de Viefville), and implores him to help the writer to 
obtain a government post of some description. 

It is very probable that Camille was instrumental 
in securing for him the position of Public Prosecutor, 
the duties of which Fouquier took up at about this 
time. It is a curious example of the irony of fate, 
when one thinks that it may have been Camille 
himself who procured for his humble relation that 
office, wherein Fouquier was mainly instrumental in 
obtaining the condemnation of the Dantonists. 

The question whether or no Camille was involved 
in the prison massacres of September 2nd and 3rd is 
subsidiary to the larger issue of Danton's implication. 
As Minister of Justice and as Camille's superior alike, 
the greater share of responsibility rests with him. 

Contemporary writers and a large number of 
modern historians consider Danton as responsible for 
the massacres, and even as their prime mover. So 
great an authority as Lord Acton himself takes this 
view, although he writes of the affair as a concerted 
plan on the part of the Government. 

Several of Danton's biographers, however, and 
notably Mr. H. Belloc, have almost conclusively proved 
that the Minister of Justice took no active part what- 
ever in the organisation of the massacres. Mr. Belloc 
brings forward very strong evidence to show that the 
circular letter, which, stamped as it was with the 


impress of the Ministry of Justice, has always been 
considered to prove Danton's comphcity in the plot, 
was written on paper stolen for the purpose from the 
Minister's office. He believes that this letter, which 
was sent throughout the provinces to incite to further 
massacres, was compiled by a committee mainly inspired 
by Marat. 

The real truth would seem to be that Danton tacitly 
permitted the massacres, although he did not himself 
organise them. Possibly he felt himself to be powerless 
in the matter, and feared to lose his influence with the 
people if he interfered with their frightful vengeance. 
The country was in the most terrible and imminent 
danger ; he may have believed, with the mob, that 
there was real peril from the plots of the imprisoned 
aristocrats. All the thoughts and actions of the 
Minister of Justice at this moment were directed 
towards the defeat of the enemy who was advancing 
towards Paris. In person he superintended the 
business of enlistment and harangued the people, 
stirring them up by the dominating power of his 
personality and his fiery, inspiring phrases. It was at 
this time that he thundered out those memorable 
words which have echoed down through history : — 

" Pour les vaincre, pour les atterer, que faut-il ? De 
I'audace, encore de I'audace, et toujours I'audace ! " 

In any case it is scarcely possible to believe, with 
Lord Acton, that the work of murder was performed 
by men paid directly by the governing body of Paris. 
Paid they may have been, and no doubt were, but may 
they not have received their wages from the Committee 
which engineered the massacres and sent out the 
circulars purporting to emanate from the Ministry of 
Justice ? 

What we have said of Danton applies to Camille in 
a minor degree. He was the Minister's Secretary, and 
probably shared his policy with regard to the prison 


massacres. We have no means of ascertaining what 
his private opinion concerning them may have been, 
but it must be confessed that his pamphlet on the 
events of June 20th, from which we have already 
quoted, indirectly advocated such a method of popular 
vengeance as that which was so terribly carried out 
on September 2nd and 3rd. 

It is almost certain that Danton and Camille alike 
later felt themselves to have been morally responsible 
for the massacres. The epithet of " Septembriseur " 
had the power to make Danton falter to the day of his 
death ; he could not hear it applied to him, with a 
conscience clear of guilt. 

Mr. Philip Gibbs has put the case well and im- 
partially in one of his studies of the principal person- 
ages of the French Revolution. 

" Danton must be blamed," he says, " like Desmoulins and 
Marat, for violence of speech which led to atrocious actions 
. . . for working upon the imagination of a people already 
hysterical with fear and hatred, and afterwards for condoning 
and slurring over atrocities which dragged the revolutionary 
ideals of liberty and justice through the shambles of barbarous 
revenge. . . . Judging them with as much knowledge of the 
facts as history affords us, we may acquit Danton and Des- 
moulins of murderous design, though not of bloodguiltiness." 

Camille did not retain for very long his official 
position at the Ministry of Justice. Together with 
Danton himself, he was anxious to be elected as 
Deputy to the National Convention which was to open 
at the end of September. The nominations for the 
new Assembly took place at the beginning of the 
month, and on September 8th Camille was elected 
as one of the deputies for Paris, although not without 
some opposition. It was only after two ballots that he 
obtained the majority of votes over Kersaint. 

Camille seems to have taken his new position very 
seriously — more seriously perhaps than his constituents 
expected of him. In his " Fragment de I'Histoire 


Secrete de la Revolution " he describes his feelings at 
the opening of the new assembly. 

Those are indeed to be envied, he says, who have 
just been named deputies to the Convention. Was 
there ever a more magnificent mission, a more splendid 
opportunity of glory ? It is their task to punish the 
tyrant, to build a constitution, to defeat the nations 
of Europe, finally to " make a people." Certainly 
this is no light or superficial view of the situation. 

It was about this time that, according to Roland's 
" Appeal," Danton proposed to Roland, the Minister 
of the Interior, to institute a journal for the purpose 
of biassing the public mind in the direction which the 
then government wished. This periodical was to 
have been edited by Camille, but the plan never 

The National Convention met for the first time on 
September 20th. It had been elected by almost 
absolute universal suffrage in accordance with a law 
passed by the Legislative Assembly on August loth. 
Although its numbers were by no means complete 
on the opening date, the Convention immediately 
proceeded to the most important measures possible. 

It decreed on September 21st that Royalty was 
abolished in France, and on the following day the 
Republic was proclaimed. Both these measures were 
afterwards submitted to the ratification of the people, 
by means of a referendum, and were accepted by a 
majority of votes. 

It was thus that the first French Republic was 
created, without any extraordinary enthusiasm, but 
also without any active opposition. On September 
25th Danton gave a great and lasting title to the new 
government when he proposed the motion that " the 
French Republic is one and undivisible." 

In the middle of September we learn that Camille 
was appointed by the Provisional Executive Council 
to inspect the district of Laon, Guise and Soissons, 


but we cannot find that he really ever undertook 
this mission, in fact, it is practically certain that he did 
not leave Paris for any period, however short. 

Camille's old journal, the " Revolutions de France 
et de Brabant," reappeared for a short time in October 
of this year under the editorship of Merlin (de Thion- 
ville). Camille seems to have taken the position of a 
kind of leader-writer on the staff of the paper, but very 
little of the old spirit was revived with the name, and 
it was plain from the first that it could not hope for a 
long life. 

The violent tone of the journal can be judged by one 
example. It bore as its epigraph a quotation from 
Seneca : " Victima haud ulla amplior potest magisque 
opima mactari Jovi quam rex," which may be roughly 
translated as follows : " There is no victim more 
agreeable to Jupiter than a king as the sacrifice." 

A few numbers only of the journal appeared, and 
they have little value or interest. It is evident, 
however, that Camille was considered to share with 
Merlin the responsibility of the production, for one 
of the few monarchical journals of that day, the short- 
lived " Journal Frangais," contains the following 
reference to the " Revolutions de France " in its first 
number, dated November 15th, 1792, and addressed 
to the Society of Jacobins : — 

" Brothers and friends, you are sovereigns, because you say 
so every day in your tribune ; you are wise, because brothers 
Merlin and Desmoulins give a journal gratis, v\hich calls forth 
the admiration of the eighty-three departments and of all 

And now the shadow of a great duty to be performed 
hung over the National Convention. They must 
decide upon the fate of Louis XVI. 

It was in the debates on this question that the first 
signs of a division in the Convention began to appear. 
The party of the Mountain, which had been com- 


paratively weak in the Legislative Assembly, had now 
assumed formidable proportions and could contend on 
equal terms with the powerful Girondin faction. It 
is misleading, however, to imagine these two parties 
as being opposed to one another in their ideas of 
the Republic. This misconception, nevertheless, has 
become very general. People are apt to think of the 
Girondins as being essentially moderate and constitu- 
tional in their aims, almost monarchical in fact, whilst 
the Montagnards stand for extreme democracy and 
terrorism. This conception is very wide of the mark. 
The two parties were equally republican in their 
aims and ideals ; it was another question which 
separated them. M. Aulard sums up the situation 
very clearly when he says that the essential difference 
between the Montagnards and the Girondins was that 
the former wished to see Paris provisionally, during the 
war, at the head of the united Republic ; the latter 
did not wish the capital to exert any supremacy over 
the departments, even in time of war. 

The first sign of a split in the Convention appeared, 
as we have said, with respect to this question of the 
King's trial. Without being more inclined than the 
Montagnards to show clemency towards Louis, the 
Girondins wished to appeal to the people in general 
and thus ascertain their views on the subject, whilst 
the Mountain contended that the Convention alone 
had full power to try and to condemn the King. 

The trial began on December nth, and was con- 
ducted with a certain amount of dignity and order ; 
it is evident that the Convention had in mind the pro- 
cess and condemnation of Charles I. 

As to Louis, he bore himself throughout with great 
courage, although from the first it is plain he had small 
hope that his life would be spared. During the long 
trial most of the leading orators of the Convention 
set forth their views with regard to the sentence which 
was to be passed upon the King. Camille had rightly 


no confidence in his own powers as a speaker. He 
accordingly put into writing his " Opinion upon the 
Judgment of Louis XVI." 

The power of his pen was never used to worse pur- 
pose, except perhaps in his attacks upon Brissot and the 
Girondin party. One would think that the writer was 
impelled by malignity against the man, as well as wrath 
against the King, and his vituperation is even womanish 
in its inconsequence. 

Still it is only fair to Camille to remember that he 
was not alone in this almost personal feeling of hatred 
towards Louis. The King had been culpably, crimin- 
ally weak, and it is perhaps little to be wondered at 
that this criminality was imputed more to malice than 
to lack of strength. 

The Constitution had set it down that the person of 
the King was inviolable, but Camille argues that the 
primitive code of nations decrees that no law is law 
until it is freely subscribed to by the people. He con- 
tends that the populace had never agreed to this law 
of inviolability. In fact, they protested against it after 
the return from Varennes in the famous Petition of the 
Champ-de-Mars, the signing of which, as he says, was 
only partly prevented by the massacre of patriots. 

Furthermore, Camille considers that if there had 
been a contract between the King and the people this 
would have become null, owing to the repeated 
" treasons " of the King, one of the contracting 
parties. Therefore the writer considers that, as 
King, Louis is worthy of death. 

So far, according to the spirit of the times, Camille 
is not illogical. It is the second part of his argument 
that posterity will scarcely accept. 

He contends that Louis must also be punished as a 
criminal. True, he concedes, that, from some points 
of view, one cannot altogether compare him with 
Nero, but he accuses him in no measured terms of 
treason and of treason which puts him outside the law. 


He ought, therefore, to be punished as an outlaw, and 
as one more culpable than the lowest brigand or robber, 
for, as Camille observes, one still finds honour amongst 

Camille scoffs at the idea of there being any difficulty 
as to who should judge the King ; it is the sovereign 
people who must do this thing, through their repre- 
sentatives. They have arrogated to themselves the 
duty of judging others, therefore they can judge 
Louis Capet. 

" It is evident that the people have sent us here to judge the 
King, and to give them a Constitution." 

Camille concludes, in correct classical fashion, by 
comparing the Deputies of the Convention to the 
Consul Brutus, who did not shrink from condemning 
his own son to death. Shall they, the representatives 
of the people, prove themselves less worthy than he by 
hesitating to judge a far greater criminal ? 

Camille did not pause here. His rancour against 
Louis was not yet satisfied. This " Opinion " of his 
is almost moderate in tone when we compare it with 
a motion he presented at this time to the National 

The violence of his language on this occasion is quite 
indefensible, at least if we are to judge the men of 
that day by the ordinary rules which govern conduct 
amongst a civilised people. 

Camille's motion was as follows : — 

" The National Convention decrees that Louis Capet de- 
serves to die. It decrees that the scaffold shall be erected in 
the Place de Carrousel, whither Louis shall be conducted, 
wearing on his breast these words : ' Perjurer and Traitor to 
the Nation,' and on his back another label bearing the word 
' King,' in order to show the world that the degradation of 
nations cannot efface the crimes committed by royalty, even 
after the lapse of fifteen centuries ; it also decrees that the 
tomb of the Kings at St. Denis shaU henceforth be the burial- 
place of thieves, murderers and traitors." 


Vindictiveness towards a fallen foe could scarcely 
go farther than this. 

The long trial of the King came to an end at last. It 
now only remained for the members of the Convention 
to record their votes on three successive questions. 

Firstly, whether Louis Capet was guilty or not 
guilty. On this count the verdict was unanimous, or 
practically so ; with no dissentient voice the Con- 
vention made answer : " He is guilty." 

With regard to the second question, whether there 
should be an appeal to the people or no, the Montag- 
nard vote prevailed over that of the Girondins. There 
was a majority of two to one against the referendum. 

On the following day, Wednesday, January loth, the 
voting began on the last and most important question 
— what punishment ? 

It was not until eight o'clock in the evening that 
they actually began to vote, after a day spent in argu- 
ment and debate as to what majority should be 
required to decide the matter. All through the dark 
hours of that winter night, all through the next day 
and night the voting continued. The seven hundred 
and forty-nine members of the Convention who were 
present mounted one by one to the Tribune and re- 
corded their votes, sometimes accompanying their 
bare statement with a speech in explanation or 
vindication of their opinion. 

From one of the galleries in the hall a group of 
painted, gaily dressed women, the friends of 
" Equality " Orleans, listened to the voting, with 
laughing comments on the grim ceremonial. They 
held little cards inscribed with the names of the 
deputies, and as these names were called and the vote 
was given, they pricked it off in one column or the 
other. Bets were interchanged between these women 
and the deputies and their friends, who came and went 
amongst them, bets as to whether Capet would 
eventually escape, as to how such and such a one would 


vote. They ate oranges and sweetmeats whilst they 
waited — and the fate of a King hung in the balance. 

All the world knows the final verdict — that verdict 
which the Girondin, Vergniaud, pronounced as 
President of the Convention, in a voice which, men 
said, sounded as though conscience-stricken. 

" I declare, in the name of the Convention, that the punish- 
ment it pronounces on Louis Capet is that of death." 

Camille gave his vote in the terms which one would 
naturally expect after reading his " Opinion." Yet 
he had but lately received a letter from his father in 
which M. Desmoulins gravely and solemnly warned 
his son against voting for the death of the King. 

" If I were you, I should say," writes the elder man, " ' I 
am a Republican in feeling and in act and have given proof of 
it. I was one of the first and most eager to denounce Louis 
XVI ; and for these very reasons, I decline to vote.' " 

In spite of this warning, Camille recorded his vote 
for death, and in no dubious phrases. These are the 
exact words which he used. 

" Manuel, in his ' Opinion ' of the month of November, 
said : ' A King dead is not a man the less.' I vote for death, 
perhaps too late for the honour of the National Convention." 

So on that bitter, frost-bound day at the end of 
January, the sacrifice which Camille had helped with 
all his powers to bring about was consummated. With 
no great show of stoicism — for he was never a romantic 
figure— but with a simple piety which was far better 
than any heroics, Louis XVI, King of France and 
Navarre, met his death. 

To his son he left a noble testament — the command 
to forgive his own enemies and those of his father. The 
words which he would have spoken to his people were 
drowned in the roll of drums. In the pages of history 
Louis has inscribed his name, haltingly and unevenly, 
as a good man, but a bad king. 

IT was a bitter wind which directed the course 
of the self-named weathercock during those 
first nine months of 1793. Camille had been 
one of the instruments to slay the King. Now, 
he was to assist, with that cruel pen of his, in the 
downfall of a man, once his intimate friend, and of 
a party who, well directed, might have been the 
salvation of France. 

We have already seen how the quarrel between 
Camille and Brissot began. The former had neither 
forgotten nor forgiven the injury which he considered 
himself to have sustained. He had given one retaliating 
thrust already, in the " Brissot Demasque " ; he only 
bided his time to wound his adversary yet more 

Meantime, all Europe was stunned with horror at 
the news of the execution of Louis. No one had 
realised that the Convention would dare to go so far. 
No one had believed that the spirit must be taken 
literally which had inspired Danton with those terrible 
words : — 

" The coalised Kings threaten us ; we hurl at their feet, as 
gage of battle, the head of a King ! " 

Monsieur, the Count of Provence, proclaimed 
himself regent for the boy-king, Louis XVII, on Jan- 
uary 28th, and in the wording of this proclamation 
showed more than the usual Bourbon incapacity to 
learn wisdom. He stated that his desire and intention 
was to re-establish the old order of things, pure and 



simple, and thereby did enormous harm to the royal 

There was a practically unanimous declaration of war 
from the European powers, a declaration which the 
new Republic accepted, nay, which, in more than one 
instance, she forestalled. And while the Armies of 
the Coalition threatened the northern and eastern 
frontiers of France, in the early spring of 1793 civil 
war broke out within her boundaries. 

Royalist La Vendee had long been smouldering in 
rebellion, and the revolt broke into flame when the 
Convention endeavoured to enforce the great national 
levy of troops in this province. 

It was on March 8th that all the external and 
internal troubles seemed to come to a climax. There 
was bad news from the frontier, where Dumouriez 
hesitated on the brink of treason ; there was bad news 
from La Vendee, where the untrained Royalist troops 
were assuming a rough kind of organisation, under their 
own peasant leaders and a few impoverished seigneurs. 

In Paris, the internal quarrels of the Convention 
were growing more and more persistent. When on 
this 8th of March Danton rose in the Assembly to plead 
that the representatives should cease from discord, 
should lay aside their quarrels and join in the defence 
of the Fatherland, he put into words a national 

As usual Danton carried public opinion with him. 
On the Hotel de Ville, the black flag proclaimed that 
the " Fatherland was in Danger ! " and the sections 
sat in permanence to enrol recruits. The Girondins 
alone were uncertain and doubtful ; they found it 
literally impossible to join whole-heartedly with the 
" Mountain." They temporised and waited, whilst 
the populace murmured against them. 

Nevertheless, for the moment the indignation against 
Brissot and his party subsided, without resulting in 
open strife. 


On March loth the Convention took a very im- 
portant step. It decreed, on Danton's motion, that : 
" There should be estabHshed in Paris a Criminal 
Tribunal extraordinary ; which vi^ould deal with all 
counter-revolutionary undertakings, and all attempts 
upon the liberty, equality, unity and indivisibility of 
the Republic, the internal and external safety of the 
state and all conspiracies tending to re-establish 
Royalty, or to establish any other authority injurious 
to liberty, equality and the sovereignty of the people." 

Thus was instituted the famous Revolutionary 
Tribunal, which exactly a year later was to arraign 
before its bar the very man who had caused it to be 
created. Revolutionary Tribunals had already existed, 
notably that one which had been formed to try those 
involved in the affair of August loth, but these were 
merely temporary creations. This was the great 
Tribunal which was to become such a terrible and 
deadly weapon in the hands of the Committee of 
Public Safety. 

It was on March 25th that this all-powerful Com- 
mittee was formed. At first it was known as the 
Committee of General Defence, continuing the title 
of one which had been in existence since January 3rd, 
1793. It consisted of twenty-five members, of whom 
Camille was one. 

In this form the Committee executed nothing of 
particular interest. It only existed until April 5th, 
when it was dissolved and replaced by a Commission 
of Execution, which, on April 6th, took the name of 
the Committee of Public Safety. Under this name, 
although at various times reconstituted, the great 
Commitee governed France to all intents and purposes 
until the establishment of the Directory. 

There was an indirect thrust against Brissot and his 
party in a measure which was passed in the Convention 
on March 29th and which decreed that : " Whosoever 
should be convicted of having composed or printed 


works or writings which might provoke the dissolution 
of the National Representation, the re-establishment 
of Royalty or of any other power injurious to the 
sovereignty of the people," should be found guilty of 
treason against the Nation. 

Again on April 5th another decisive move was taken 
against the Girondins. The Jacobins, with Marat as 
President, signed a circular proclaiming the necessity 
of proscribing the Girondin Deputies as " traitors, 
Royalists and inept." This address was read from the 
Tribune of the Convention and signed by ninety-six 
members of the Mountain, amongst whom was Camille. 
Danton and Robespierre, however, declined to put 
their names to it. 

The Girondins retaliated by proposing a decree of 
accusation against Marat, which they contrived to 
pass in the Assembly by a narrow majority, but al- 
though the " Friend of the People " was brought in 
consequence before the Revolutionary Tribunal, he 
was acquitted and carried back to the Convention in 
triumph by the populace. Here he behaved with 
considerable dignity and forbearance, and the Giron- 
dins could not but feel that their attack on the Moun- 
tain had most woefully miscarried. Instead of 
strengthening their position by this aggression they 
had enormously weakened it. 

It was in May that Camille published his next and 
most virulent attack upon Brissot and his party, 
" L'Histoire des Brissotins " (Fragment de I'Histoire 
secrete de la Revolution). 

Contemporary writers, who were also eye-witnesses 
of the events, such as Helen Maria Williams, seem to 
have accepted it as indisputable that the act of 
accusation against the Girondin deputies was mainly 
founded on this pamphlet of Camille's. He himself 
writes of it to his father, a little later, as " the mani- 
festo, the precursor of the Revolution of May 31st," 
and there is little doubt but that it was the chief 


instrument which brought about the fall of the 
Gironde. For those days the circulation of the 
pamphlet was immense, more than four thousand 
copies being sold. 

In this work Camille pursued the same system of 
attack as in the " Brissot Demasque." His object 
was to prove that the whole party of the Gironde was 
Royalist and anti-revolutionary in its tendencies, 
thereby discrediting them with the populace, and he 
was not particularly scrupulous as to the means he 
adopted to prove his unfounded assertions. For 
instance, he states that in September, 1792, a large 
proportion of the Convention was Royalist, meaning 
thereby the faction of the Gironde. This statement 
is obviously absurd, and he gives no further proof of 
this royalism than the " Implications of the Girondins 
against Paris." It is, of course, plain that Camille's 
sole object was to depict his enemies as " reactionaries " 
without giving any valid reasons for the accusation. 

Speaking of Brissot, Petion, Guadet, Gensonne, 
Raimond and others, he says : " Until these days it 
was held to be impossible to found a Republic except 
upon the virtues like the ancient legislators ; but it 
has been the immortal glory of this society to create 
the Republic with vices." 

Camille inveighed against Brissot and his associates 
with bitter sarcasm, using with deadly effect the 
weapon of his terrible wit. He urged that the 
Brissotins should be vomited forth from the Conven- 
tion, and the Revolutionary Tribunal " amputated." 
Whilst the brilliance of the pamphlet is undeniable, 
this fact only made it the more dangerous : never 
had Camille written to worse effect in all his literary 
career than now, when he used his pen to bring about 
the destruction of those men, who, with all their faults, 
were amongst the purest patriots in France. 

It is undoubted that this pamphlet of Camille's was 
written at the direct inspiration of Robespierre. 


During the greater part of this year of 1793 all the 
work of the journalist was practically dictated by his 
friend and colleague, who made use of the medium of 
Camille's brilliant style to express his own subtle 

Robespierre's whole system of attack upon the 
Gironde in the Convention and at the Jacobins was a 
series of indeterminate accusations, of vague deduc- 
tions, and of spiteful calumnies. This, as we have 
seen, was also the plan pursued by Camille in the 
" Histoire des Brissotins " with this difference, that 
his clear, incisive style gave a deceptive kind of lucidity 
to Robespierre's enigmatic and non-committal utter- 

At the same time, the fact that Camille was inspired 
in this and other instances by Robespierre does not 
shift the blame from the journalist's shoulders. He 
was a man, and as such responsible for his own actions, 
whether bad or the reverse. The question is, whether 
Camille himself acted in good faith by writing as he 
did, and here it would certainly be unfair to accuse 
him of intentional falsehood or even of insincerity. 
It is certain that there was a considerable amount of 
personal ill-feeling on his part, towards Brissot at any 
rate, but on the whole he probably believed that he 
was doing right in striving to bring about the downfall 
of the Girondins. It was a party question, and at that 
time party warfare was a cruel and remorseless 
business, where little mercy was shown, a fight 
veritably to the death. 

Immediately on the publication of Camille's 
pamphlet followed the day of May 31st, when the 
Convention, overawed by the Commune, submitted 
ignominiously to the demands of the people of Paris, 
and, in cowardly fashion, delivered up the deputies of 
the Gironde. 

At first Brissot and his colleagues were not im- 
prisoned, but merely kept under supervision, and 


debarred from taking their seats in the Convention. 
In consequence of this comparative freedom a number 
of the deputies, amongst whom were Buzot, Barbaroux, 
Louvet and Petion, escaped from Paris and made their 
way to Normandy, there to stir up civil war. 

As military leaders, however, the Girondins failed 
signally. They expected the people of the provinces 
to flock to their standard as soon as it was raised, but 
they were disappointed in this hope. Their general, 
Wimpfen, tried to prevail on them to join forces with 
the Royalist troops, but this proposal the staunch 
Republicans rejected with scorn. At the one pitched 
battle with the army of the Convention, at Vernon, 
the Girondin army rather dissolved than was defeated. 
The deputies began that sorrowful and hopeless flight 
through the autumnal countryside, which ended only 
in the death of most of them, killed by their own hands, 
by the guillotine — by the very dogs of the village. 

In Paris the fate of the Girondin deputies was even 
more swift and certain. Camille carried his attack 
yet further in the " Adresse des Jacobins aux departe- 
ments sur I'insurrection du 31 mai," which appeared 
during the summer. Nevertheless, it is apparent in 
this pamphlet that the journalist did not feel entirely 
confident of himself. There is in it a distinct attempt 
to justify his course of action, to prove himself in the 
right, for his own satisfaction as much as for that of 
others, by appealing to the examples of the men of 
antiquity, and by a succession of quotations from 
Seneca, Plato and Sallust. It is plain enough that 
Camille already felt some twinges of remorse. 

The misguided heroism of Charlotte Corday in her 
murder of Marat was the death-blow of the Girondin 
cause. As Vergniaud is reported to have said : " She 
has slain us, but she teaches us how to die." 

It was in this same month of July, which saw the 
death of Marat, that Camille for the first time found 
himself under suspicion of that deadly sin of " in- 


civism " which formed the basis of so many accusations 
at that time. 

It would appear that the young man had been 
somewhat remiss in his attendances at the Convention, 
where, indeed, Camille never felt himself in his ele- 
ment, and in consequence the deputy Breard went so 
far as to accuse him of a connection with the aristocrats 
and of favouring their projects. 

The real reason of the accusation, however, is to be 
traced to the suspicions aroused by Camille's bold and 
spirited defence of his friend Arthur Dillon at the 
beginning of this month of July. That brave soldier 
and fascinating man of the world had been imprisoned 
in the Madelonettes on July nth and 12th upon the 
accusation of Couthon. 

Dillon was almost openly a Royalist, he was the 
devoted adherent of Marie-Antoinette ; an ill man 
to defend at that time. Nevertheless, Camille took 
up the case vehemently, and, what is more, carried it 
through successfully, although at the cost to himself 
of a stain upon his reputation as a true Republican. 
It was a luckless friendship, this of the brilliant Franco- 
Irishman for the journalist and his wife. The fact 
that Camille undertook his defence was, undoubtedly, 
the young man's first step downward from popular 
favour, and Dillon's well-meant but misguided actions 
later were to be made the pretext for the arrest and 
condemnation of Lucile. 

Camille must have been very well aware of the danger 
which he ran by showing such active sympathy with a 
man accused of royalism. Probably he believed then 
and later that his own republicanism was above 
suspicion, that the people of Paris would always 
support their favourite, whatever he might do. 
However that may be, there is a letter extant from 
Dillon to his counsel which proves that the young man 
acted with real devotion and self-forgetfulness, and 
which besides throws a curious sidelight upon his 


relationship to Fouquier-Tinville, tlie Public Prose- 
cutor. Dillon writes from the prison of the Madelon- 
ettes, a short time before his release. 

" This tremendous business of mine," he says, " now become 
so simple, thanks to your kindness, to your courage, and besides, 
and above all, to your fair-dealing, holds by only one thread 
which is frightfully elongated by the laziness of your cousin, 
Fouquier de TinviUe. . . . only a word from your cousin is 

In an English journal of that date, the " Argus," we 
find the following interesting commentary on Dillon's 
relations with Camille and the ultimate result of the case. 
The extract is reprinted from the " Register of Occur- 
rences " in Sampson Perry's " Historical Sketch " : — 

" A. Dillon possessed the friendship of several members of 
the Convention, among the rest that of Camille Desmoulins, 
who writ a Philippic against the Committee of Public Welfare 
almost entirely to vindicate Dillon's conduct and to set forth 
his knowledge of his profession and to detail the services he 
had rendered France, proving that he would do it still by his 
counsels, if not by his sword. The efEect of this weU-written 
pamphlet, added to that of a large posting bill wherein he 
peremptorily demanded the Committee either to take his head 
or to give him his liberty, produced what he desired, and he 
was in a few days liberated from the Madelonettes." 

There was perhaps a deeper reason than at first 
appears for Camille's generous conduct in this matter. 
Evil tongues had been busy once again, hinting at 
something more than common friendship between 
Arthur Dillon and Lucile Desmoulins ; by his self- 
sacrificing defence of the elder man Camille could and 
did prove his faith in his wife in no uncertain fashion. 

That he was aware of the rumours we know from his 
own writings ; and the manner in which he answered 
the infamous report may vi^ell be set down here : — 

" ' Do you know Dillon well ? ' Camille says that an 
acquaintance asked him. 


" ' Of course I know him. Have I not got myself into a 
scrape for him, against his will ? ' . . . 

" ' Does your wife often see Dillon ? ' 

" ' I don't think she has seen him four times in her life.' . . . 

" ' Since you take it so philosophically, you must know that 
Dillon betrays you as well as the Republic. You are not a 
handsome fellow.' 

" ' Far from it.' 

" ' Your wife is charming, Dillon is still handsome, and 
women are so fickle.' 

" ' Some at least.' 

" ' I am sorry for you.' ... 

" ' Let your friendship make its mind easy. I see plainly that 
you do not know my wife, and if Dillon betrays the Republic 
as he betrays me, I will answer for his innocence.' " 

Camille's taste may be questioned in publishing this 
conversation, imaginary or otherwise. What is un- 
questionable is his complete and unswerving faith in 
Lucile, as unquestionable as the fact that his young 
wife deserved that perfect trust. 

After the accusation brought against him in the 
Convention, Camille was invited to submit his 
character to the scrutiny of the Jacobins. He passed 
through the ordeal successfully with the aid of 
Robespierre, and managed to clear himself for the 
time being. 

But this was not the end of the matter. Camille 
immediately published what we should now call an 
" open " " Lettre au General Dillon," and this letter 
was full of expressions which almost pass belief in their 
unwisdom. It really would seem as though the 
journalist thought that he was privileged to say any- 
thing he pleased with impunity. 

He spoke of Billaud-Varennes, a personality to be 
reckoned with at that time, and a man incredibly bitter 
and vindictive, as a coward, and as " the bilious 

Of Saint-Just, another member of the great Com- 
mittee of Government, and the devoted friend of 


Robespierre, he wrote in phrases which have become 

" After Legendre," says Camille, " the member of the 
Convention who has the highest opinion of himself is Saint- Just. 
One can see by his gait and bearing that he looks upon his own 
head as the corner-stone of the Revolution, for he carries it 
upon his shoulders with as much respect as if it were the sacred 

Neither Billaud nor Saint-Just ever forgot these 
pleasant jests. As we shall soon see, they were from 
henceforth among Camille's most bitter and unsparing 

It would seem as though the journalist himself 
suspected that he had gone too far in his attacks on 
these extreme members of the Committee. Writing 
to his father on August loth, he says : — 

"I send you a pamphlet that I have just published (" Lettre 
au General Dillon "). Its prodigious success for two days past 
makes me almost afraid, because I am not more resentful against 
myself. I must needs descend to the depths of my heart, in 
order to find there always the same patriotism as of old, that, I 
may excuse myself in my own eyes when I see the aristocrats 
so delighted." 

We possess two letters written by Camille to his 
father at this time. The first, dated July 9th, in 
which he boasts of the effect of his attack on Brissot, 
is mainly cheerful in tone. He complains, in mock 
seriousness, that he is compelled to write in his office, 
at the Hall of the Assembly, because at home Lucile 
always comes to look over his shoulder, to discover 
whether he is writing to Guise. 

He tells his father, half seriously, half playfully, that 
his wife is plainly jealous of his family. She will not 
hear of paying a visit to his birthplace, even after 
peace shall have been declared. As Camille naively 
remarks in a passage already quoted, she is troubled by 
the remembrance of ''some cousin of mine, who has 
been mentioned to her." 


The contrast between this letter, with its revelations 
of Lucile's pretty jealousy, and that which he wrote to 
his father on August loth is very marked. He speaks 
of a family sorrow, the news of which has just been 
sent to him, and his language is very tender and 
affectionate. We should perhaps say here that 
Camille's suggestion was perfectly correct. Semery 
Desmoulins was in reality a prisoner, and was still 
living many years after the death of his father and 
elder brother. 

" I am very grieved to hear of the death of my brother 
Semery, slain in fighting for the fatherland," Camille writes. 
" I had no other certainty of a loss so afflicting for you except 
the indication of his long silence, and I seized with avidity 
upon your doubts as to his death. Is it not possible that you 
may still receive him from the hands of the enemy, who perhaps 
hold him a prisoner ? I have realised every hour, in seeing 
my own son, how this blow must cut you to the heart. My 
wife and I have been much touched by the interest which you 
feel for this dear little child, whom we love so much that I 
have horrible fear of losing him. Life is made up of evil and 
good in equal proportions, and for some years evil has floated 
around me, so that it seems to me my turn to be submerged 
must come. ... It has been said that in every country under 
an absolute government, the grand way to succeed is to be 
commonplace. I see that this may be true of a Republic. Of 
what importance is success to me ? But I cannot bear the sight 
of all this accumulated injustice, ingratitude and wrong. 
Where can I be as obscure as I am now well known ? Where 
is the asylum, the cellar where I may hide from all observation, 
with my wife, my child and my books ? I cannot prevent 
myself from thinking unceasingly that these men who are 
executed in thousands have children, have fathers also. At 
least I have none of these murders with which to reproach 
myself, nor any of these wars against which I have always 
contended. . . . Farewell, I embrace you : take care of your 
health so that I may press you to my heart if I am to be suffered 
to outlive this revolution, although there are moments when 
I am tempted to seek death in La Vendee or on the frontiers to 
escape from the spectacle of so many ills. ... It is true that 


the state of things, such as it is, is incomparably better than 
four years ago, because there is a hope of amendment, a hope 
which cannot exist under a despotism of which the slaves are 
like the damned who have no more hope." 

This letter, as a whole, speaks of discouragement, 
of a kind of vicarious remorse, as it were. Camille 
boasts that he need not reproach himself for these 
murders, and for these ills which afflict his country. 
He does not yet realise his personal responsibility, he 
is still blind to his own share in the evils which he sees 
so plainly. His eyes were soon to be rudely opened ; 
in a moment of time he was to see himself revealed as 
the murderer of the men who had been his own 
familiar friends. It needed some such shock as this 
to rouse Camille to a sense of his own responsibilities. 

It must necessarily seem to us very strange that 
loving, tender-hearted Lucile did not serve as a soften- 
ing influence upon Camille at this worst and most 
violent period of his life. 

The truth would seem to be that Lucile herself 
was an ardent little Republican and, in theory, quite 
ready to advocate extreme measures. There is an 
entry in her diary relative to Marie-Antoinette, where 
she describes in high-flown phrases what she would do 
in the place of the Queen " if fate had set me upon the 
Throne, if, having wrought the misery of my subjects, 
a certain death awaited me as the just punishment of 
my crimes." 

There is a stoical pitilessness in Lucile's imaginings. 
" I would have a funeral pile erected and surrounded 
by barriers ; and three days before my death I would 
have my intentions made known to the people. 
Within the enclosure and opposite the funeral pile 
I would have an altar erected. During those three 
days I would pray at the foot of the altar to the great 
Master of the Universe ; the day of my death all my 
family should accompany me to the funeral pile in 


Moreover, Lucile loved Camille with an intensity 
which bHnded her to all his faults and shortcomings. 
Everything which her husband did or wrote doubt- 
less seemed in her eyes to be right, and perfectly 

It was during the summer of 1793 that the 
" Terror " became a systematised method of govern- 
ment. There are two things to be remembered in 
this connection : firstly, that it was a definite system, 
and secondly, that it was not a system which was 
intended to be permanent. It is possible that Marie- 
Joseph Chenier, himself a Terrorist, gave at once the 
best apology and the best explanation for the Terror- 
istic Government in the Council of Five Hundred, 
on the 27th Ventose, Year IV. 

" A monarchy fourteen centuries old," he said, " suddenly 
transformed into a Republic ; a war against half Europe ; a 
vast civil war in the interior of the country ; it must be allowed 
that these trifling circumstances might well justify certain 
temporary measures, which would be abandoned in the 
tranquillity of a happier time." 

The atrocities which have made the Terror a 
synonym for unspeakable cruelty are ever to be de- 
plored. But who can say that there was no method 
in that madness ? 

The Terror, in Barere's sounding phrase, was 
indeed "on the Orders of the Day" from this time 
onward. The Queen had been executed on October 
1 6th, the very day on which the armies of the Coalition 
were signally defeated at Wattignies by the raw 
Republican recruits, directed by the military genius of 
Carnot. Danton had retreated to his birthplace 
in the middle of the month, broken down in health 
after his enormous exertions. He had striven to heal 
the breach with the Girondins to his utmost. Now, 
in despair, he could only leave them to their fate. 

On October 31st the trial of Brissot and his col- 


leagues came to an end, and the death sentence was 

It is from this day that we must date the great 
change which came over Camille ; the reaction then 
definitely set in which culminated in his appeal for 
clemency. For the first time he seems to have realised 
the power of the printed word, he saw in a tangible 
form the result of his own writings. A terrible truth 
was brought home to him ; the truth that, as Mr. 
Philip Gibbs expresses it : " at that time in France 
an accusation was almost as good as a condemnation, 
and that a bitter jest led men to the guillotine." 

Camille had shot his arrows of barbed wit recklessly, 
thinking, if he thought at all, that they would glance 
off without reaching a vital spot. He was to find now 
that they had reached their mark, that they had been 
only too well aimed ; to paraphrase the poet, he was 
to find them " in the heart of a friend." 

Vilate, in his Memoirs, of which there is no reason 
to doubt the authenticity, tells us hovv^ Camille bore 
himself at the trial of the Girondins. This passage has 
often been quoted, but it will bear repetition here : — 

" I was seated with Camille Desmoulins on the bench placed 
before the table of the jury. When they returned from their 
deliberation, Camille advanced to speak to Antonelle, who came 
in one of the last. Surprised at the alteration in his face, 
Camille said to him, rather loud : ' I pity you ; yours are 
terrible functions ' ; then, hearing the declaration of the 
jury, he threw himself into my arms in distress and agony of 
mind : ' Oh, my God, my God ! It is I who kill them ! My 
" Brissot Unmasked " ! Oh, my God, this has destroyed 
them ! ' As the accused returned to hear their sentence all 
eyes were turned on them ; the most profound silence reigned 
throughout the hall : the public prosecutor concluded with 
the sentence of death. The unfortunate Camille, fainting, 
losing his consciousness, faltered out these words : ' I am 
going, I am going, I must go out ! ' = He could not." 

It would almost appear as though Camille had not 


thought it possible that the Girondins would be con- 
demned to death. Otherwise, he surely would not 
have been present at the trial, unless it was a terrible 
fascination which dragged him there to hear the end, 
whatever that might be. 

This day marks the close of the third phase of 
Camille's life, that short, worse period, when it seems 
as though he were indeed driven by the bitter fury 
of the easterly blast. Now the wind has changed and 
for the last time. From henceforth Camille, although 
often feebly and with hesitation, will yield himself to 
a gentler influence ; we shall hear his voice raised now 
in a new appeal which sounded strange and foreign in 
those days — the appeal for clemency. 


" Thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth 
by the South Wind." 

Job xxxvii. 17, 

IT would be making an arbitrary statement and 
one neither consistent with the facts nor with 
human nature to say that the condemnation of 
the Girondin deputies was a definite turning- 
point in Camille's life. All that one can affirm is that, 
roughly, it marks the end of a phase, and that it is 
only after this date that he gives the first tangible 
proofs of a change of policy. 

It would be incorrect, however, to pretend that this 
change came about suddenly. In the passages quoted 
from Camille's letters to his father during the summer 
of 1793 we have already seen that he was uneasy and 
depressed, doubtful as to what would be the upshot of 
the conflict which was raging in France. It was not 
that his views had changed with regard to the Revolu- 
tion itself ; it was not that he had become any the 
less a Republican, but there was stirring within him a 
feeling of pity and remorse for the bloodshed which he 
had helped to bring about. He had begun to ask him- 
self that question which later in the year he was to 
cry so loudly in the streets : '' Could not the Republic 
vanquish as surely by clemency as by the sword ? " 

The trial of the Girondins, as we have said before, 
brought home to him his own personal responsibility ; 
that is really what it amounts to. 

There is a story which has been repeated again and 
again in many forms, and with so many poetical em- 
bellishments that it seems to us now more like the 
work of a writer of fiction than a relation of plain 
facts. Yet M. Jules Claretie, in his book on the 
p 225 


Dantonists, vouches for its truth, and asserts that he 
heard the story from an unimpeachable authority. 
It is his version accordingly which shall be given here. 

Some time during the summer of 1793, before 
Danton's retirement to Arcis-sur-Aube, he and Camille 
were returning homewards one evening after the 
session of the Convention. When they came to the 
Quai des Lunettes it was near the hour of sunset, and 
the crimson light of the sky was reflected in the river 
beneath. Danton paused to gaze at the strange 
unearthly glow, then turning to his companion with a 
shudder, he said : 

" Look, see how much blood ! The Seine runs 
blood. Ah, too much blood has been spilt ! Come, 
take up your pen again ; write and demand clemency 
— I will support you." 

It is not difficult to accept this story as true ; the 
words which Danton is reported to have spoken are in 
no way inconsistent with his character, framed as it 
was on large lines, both for good and evil. He ex- 
pressed the feeling which was growing in him and 
Camille alike — a feeling of dissatisfaction, of revulsion 
against the present order of things. A presentiment 
of evil plainly shadowed the thoughts' of the younger 
man as the autumn and winter drew on. At first it 
appeared in him as a kind of mental oppression. As 
he said to his father : " It seems to me my turn to be 
engulfed must come soon." 

Later it was to take a more definite form. Camille's 
forebodings during the winter and early spring of 
1794 were no question of the imagination. To his 
honour be it spoken that he was then definitely ad- 
hering to a course which he could scarcely have doubted 
might lead him to the guillotine. 

It was after the downfall of the Gironde, late in the 
autumn of 1793, that Camille, as he says himself in 
the first number of the " Vieux CordeHer," left his 
fireside to take up once more the pen of a journalist. 


He little knew at the outset to what goal this short 
campaign was to lead him. 

In Danton's absence it is plain that Robespierre had 
reassumed even more than his old influence over 
Camille. There is very httle doubt that the first con- 
ception of the new journal came from him, and there 
is practically no question but that Camille thought 
that his old comrade would support him in his later 
appeal for clemency. He certainly assumed that this 
was the case until Robespierre himself destroyed his 

It is well that this should be plainly understood 
from the beginning. The demand for a Committee of 
Clemency was not the solitary cry from Camille which 
some historians have represented it. He understood 
himself to be voicing a policy, and that the policy of 
one of the most powerful and popular men in France. 
Moreover, we have no reason to question the fact 
that, in the depths of his heart, Robespierre himself 
was in very truth inclined to merciful measures. Many 
things would seem to prove it. If the Committee of 
Public Safety, if the universal demand of the people 
had supported Camille's proposal, Robespierre would 
doubtless have come forward in person and upheld it 
with all his strength. 

But ... he was afraid. Afraid that he might lose 
his popularity and prestige, afraid for his own personal 
safety ; that was the difficulty. He was not sure that 
the people would support him, not confident that he 
could carry the thing through. Eventually, when the 
Committee, where Robespierre was not all-powerful, 
demanded the arrest of Danton and his adherents, he 
was fearful of the consequences of opposition on his 
part. As far as Danton was concerned, there is little 
doubt that he wished him out of the way. As for 
Camille — well, it was wiser even to give up his friend 
than to risk the loss of his own popularity. 

It amounts to this, then. Camille's real bravery 


consisted not so much in the initial publication of the 
" Vieux Cordelier " as in his refusal to retract what 
he had written when he discovered that Robespierre 
was against him, at least outwardly, and that the 
Jacobins thirsted for his blood. 

In the meantime Robespierre made use of Camille 
as his tool, so long as it served his purpose. When he 
found that he was cutting his own hands, he cast the 
tool aside. 

The incorruptible Maximilian had no journalistic 
powers. He could on occasion move men by his 
speeches, that is abundantly evident, but in this case 
oratory was not sufficient. Besides, Robespierre was 
probably a little doubtful as to the wisdom of making 
speeches at the Jacobins or the Cordeliers in support 
of the movement which he wished now to set on foot, 
the movement against the " ultras," the " enrages " — 
Hebert, of the " Pere Duchesne " and his party. It 
must be remembered that they were still strong in the 
clubs — it might be dangerous to inveigh against them 
too unwarily and rashly. 

The pen of the most brilliant journalist in France 
would be invaluable to aid in Robespierre's plans ; 
that pen was at his service. If Camille was a little 
unwise — a trifle outspoken — well, Robespierre could 
not be held responsible for all that his young colleague 
might do or say. 

It must have seemed to Camille that he had never 
started a journal under brighter auspices. His own 
popularity as a writer was an assured thing, he was 
backed by one of the most prominent men in the 
Republic, and the policy laid out for him to pursue 
accorded thoroughly with his own inclinations. He 
could follow the advice of Danton, that other friend 
of his, he could preach a gospel of Clemency, could 
put into words all those doubts and misgivings as to 
the policy of " Terror " which had been haunting him 
for months past. 


Danton, indeed, on returning to Paris after his 
retirement at Arcis, had already expressed these doubts 
at a sitting of the Jacobins on December 3rd. He 
demanded that the members should " defy those who 
would carry the people beyond the bounds of the 
Revolution and who proposed ultra-revolutionary 
measures." These words of Danton's were very badly 
received, and it was only after Robespierre himself 
had risen to defend his colleague against the charge 
of " lukewarmness " which was brought against him 
that the murmurs were stilled for the time being. 

The very name of the new journal was directed 
against the " ultras." This was to be the organ of the 
" Old Cordeliers," the founders of the famous club, 
whom Camille himself and Danton especially repre- 
sented. They had little in common with the " new " 
Cordeliers of the school of " Pere Duchesne " and 

The first number of the paper appeared on De- 
cember 5th (Quintidi frimaire 2nd Decade, according 
to the new calendar). It was described on the cover 
as being edited by Camille Desmoulins, " depute de la 
Convention, doyen des Jacobins," and it was headed 
in large type : " Vivre Libre ou Mourir ! " 

This number bore as a motto the words of Machia- 
velli : " As soon as those who govern are hated, their 
rivals will begin to be admired." 

Camille at once strikes the note which he was to 
follow up on an ascending scale all through the 
succeeding issues. It is the same note which he had 
first struck, years before, in the " Discours de la 
Lanterne," the accusation that the counter-revolu- 
tionary party were endeavouring to disgust the popu- 
lace with the Republic by encouraging licence and 
extreme measures. What Camille said then, at the 
very beginning of his literary career, he says again now. 
He congratulates Pitt upon a new system of tactics. 
He will then overthrow the Revolution now, not by 


means of the " moderates," but through the " ultras." 
This is the keynote of the whole number. The 
danger is imminent, Camille says,' the more so that it 
is insidious and unperceived save by very keen ob- 
servers, who have abundant leisure to note the signs 
of the times. 

" It is necessary to write," Camille cries. " It is necessary 
for me to cast aside the slow-moving pencil of the History of 
the Revolution which I was composing in the chimney-corner, 
to take up again the rapid and breathless pen of the journalist 
and to follow with loose bridle the revolutionary torrent. 
Consulting deputy, whom no one has consulted since June 3rd, 
I emerge from my office and from my arm-chair, where I 
have had sufficient leisure to enable me to follow in detail the 
new system of our enemies, which Robespierre has only 
presented to you in the mass, and which his multifarious 
occupations at the Committee of Public Safety have not 
permitted him to embrace, like me, in its entirety. . . . 
We have no longer any journal which speaks the truth — at 
least the whole truth. I re-enter the arena with all the frank- 
ness and the courage which I possess." 

Underneath all this we see very plainly the working 
of the mind of Robespierre, and, if it was needed, we 
have still further proof of Camille's source of inspira- 
tion in the journalist's own words after the publication 
of the first number, in which he refers to Robespierre's 
defence of Danton at the Jacobins. 

" Victory is with us," he writes, " because amid the ruins of 
so many colossal civic reputations, Robespierre's is unassailed, 
because he lent a hand to our competitor in patriotism, our 
perpetual president of the ' Ancien Cordeliers,' our Horatius 
Codes, who alone held the bridge against Lafayette and his 
four thousand Parisians." 

It is evident from these words that Camille con- 
sidered Robespierre to be openly allied in policy with 
himself and Danton. Nevertheless the great man was 
not wholly satisfied with the first number of the new 
journal. Certainly it was a pronounced popular 


success, but such men as Couthon, St. Just and 
Billaud-Varennes, all of them Camille's bitter personal 
enemies, looked upon it as distinctly and unmistakably- 
retrograde in character. Accordingly Robespierre 
requested Camille to submit to his revision the proofs 
of the further issues before they were printed. 

The second number of the " Vieux Cordelier " 
appeared upon December loth (20th frimaire). It 
would appear that Robespierre had corrected the 
proofs to good purpose, since the evidences of his 
influence are even more plainly traceable than before. 

The number practically consisted entirely of a most 
violent diatribe against Chaumette, Clootz and their 
party, and it probably contributed very materially 
to their downfall and execution. Now these men 
undoubtedly stood in the path of Robespierre. They 
were the initiators of the cult of " Reason," a cult 
which was entirely opposed to all Robespierre's views, 
deist as he was both by policy and by conviction. The 
Institution of the religion of the Supreme Being was 
doubtless already a fixed purpose in his clear, narrow 
mind ; he had before this date made use in the tribune 
of Voltaire's famous words : " Si Dieu n'existait pas, 
il faudrait I'inventer." All these cults must be cleared 
away to make a space on which to erect his new 
Theology, a theology where he, Maximilian Robes- 
pierre, had his place as high priest. 

The opinions expressed in this second number of the 
" Vieux Cordelier " with regard to the worship of 
Reason are undoubtedly Robespierre's, and not to be 
taken as Camille's own. The latter, with all his 
faults, could never be accused of that of bigotry ; 
probably if left to himself he would have allowed the 
followers of the cult of Reason to pursue their own 
devices unmolested. 

But when he again attacks the " enrages " in this 
number Camille is entirely in his element. This is his 
own theory ; he is always prepared to work it out 


anew, with ever fresh and more ingenious develop- 
ments and illustrations. 

" There remained for our enemies no other resources than 
those which the Senate of Rome adopted, when, seeing the 
poor success of all their attacks against the Gracchi, they 
resolved upon the following expedient to overthrow the 
patriots. This was to engage a tribune to exaggerate every- 
thing that Gracchus proposed, and whenever he brought 
forward a popular measure to advance one more popular still, 
to the end that principles and patriotism might be killed by 
principles and patriotism pushed to extravagance. If the 
Jacobin Gracchus proposed the repeopling and the partition 
of the land of two or three conquered towns, the heretofore 
Feuillant Drusus proposed to divide twelve. Gracchus fixed 
the price of bread at sixteen sous, Drusus put the maximum 
at eight sous. This succeeded so well that, in a little while, 
the people of the Forum, finding that Gracchus was no longer 
the most advanced, and that Drusus outstripped him, cooled 
towards their true defender, who, once unpopular, was over- 
whelmed by the aristocrat Scipio Nasica in the first moral 

Camille, it must be confessed, made extraordinarily 
adroit use of these illustrations and analogies from 
Greek and Roman history. Doubtless he occasionally 
distorted the facts to suit his own purpose, but on the 
whole he made a legitimate application of them, and 
displayed both ingenuity and a very wide knowledge 
of his subject. 

Nevertheless in spite of its wit and adroitness 
Camille's attack upon Anarcharsis Clootz in this 
number of the journal was both cruel and unwarrant- 
able. The visionary Prussian, scarcely sane though he 
might be and full of wild schemes and visions, was, 
notwithstanding, a high-minded and high-principled 
man. His self-assumed title of " orator of the Human 
Race " was not adopted in any light spirit, and he 
most certainly did not deserve the epithet of " Hypo- 
crite of Patriotism " which Camille applied to him 
and to his colleagues. 


This whole number is a relapse on the part of the 
journalist into his worst faults. The methods adopted 
in it, undoubtedly inspired hy Robespierre as they 
were, savour too much of the " Brissot Demasque." 
There is the same system of trumped-up charges, of 
veiled innuendoes intended to discredit their subject 
and succeeding only too well. 

" Clootz is a Prussian ; he is cousin-german of that Proly, 
who has been denounced so many times. . . . 

" He worked for the ' Gazette Universale,' at which time 
he made war upon patriots, I believe, on the occasion of the 
' Champ-de-Mars.' 

" Guadet and Vergniaud were his sponsors, and caused him 
to be naturaHsed as a French citizen, by a decree of the Legisla- 
tive Assembly." 

It is with suggestions like these that Camille 
nourished the suspicions of his readers. In the con- 
cluding paragraph of this number he sets forth the 
accusation in clear and unmistakable terms. 

" Anarcharsis and Anaxagoras (Chaumette) seem to believe 
themselves to be pushing the wheel of reason, whilst it is in 
reality that of counter-revolution ; and soon, instead of allow- 
ing Catholicism to die in France of old age and inanition, 
ready as it is to give up the ghost without procuring any 
advantage for our enemies, since the treasure of the sacristies 
will not escape Cambon, by persecution and intolerance of 
those who wish to continue their masses, I will answer for it 
that you will ensure strong constitutional reinforcements for 
Lescure and La Rochejacquelein." 

While Camille was busy with the publication of the 
first two numbers of his paper, his enemies had not 
been idle. It appears that the journalist's emotion and 
self-reproach at the trial of the Girondins had not 
passed unnoticed ; it was on these grounds that he 
was accused at the Jacobins on December 1st. How- 
ever, for the moment the accusation went no further, 
and Camille awaited his turn of " purification." 

This ceremony was instituted by the Jacobins and 


Cordeliers at this time, chiefly at the instigation o£ 
Robespierre. Turn by turn those who were accused of 
" slackness " or " lukewarmness " in the service of the 
Republic, or who were supposed to be tainted with the 
deadly sin of " incivism," were allowed to present 
themselves before the assembled members of the club 
and to set forth their defence, purging themselves, if 
possible, of the crimes of which they were accused. 
If the assembly judged them innocent, on their own 
showing, they were received back into full membership, 
and considered to be rehabilitated in the eyes of their 
fellows. If, on the contrary, they could not disprove 
the accusations brought against them, they were 
expelled from the club, and such expulsion was nearly 
always followed by a definite accusation made to the 
Revolutionary Tribunal. Unless the culprit was for- 
tunate enough to make good his escape, he was almost 
invariably arrested and brought to trial — a trial which 
rarely ended in any other sentence than that of death. 

Two days after the appearance of Camille's second 
number, Anarcharsis Clootz was called to the bar of the 
Jacobins, and his name erased from the list of member- 
ship of the Club, after a violent speech delivered by 
Robespierre. The orator repeated almost word for 
word the accusations which had been brought against 
Clootz in the " Vieux Cordelier " by Camille, or 
rather by Robespierre himself. 

At the sitting of the Jacobins on the following after- 
noon Camille was called upon to " purify " himself. As 
before, his incriminating behaviour at the trial of 
Brissot and his colleagues was the subject of the 
accusation. Why, the journalist was asked, had he 
expressed pity and regret at the condemnation of 
these enemies of his country ? Besides this, an ex- 
planation was demanded from him of his conduct with 
regard to the defence of Arthur Dillon, and the atti- 
tude which he had taken up in the published " Lettre 
au General Dillon " was severely blamed. 


As far as can be judged from the printed reports of 
this session, Camille defended himself with consider- 
able courage and dignity against the implication that 
he was lacking in patriotism. 

" I believed Dillon to be brave and useful," he said, " and 
therefore I defended him. As to the Girondins, I was in an 
extraordinary position with regard to them. I have always 
loved and served the Republic : but I have often been deceived 
respecting those who served it ; I adored Mirabeau, I esteemed 
Barnave and the Lameths ; I confess it ; but I sacrificed my 
friendship and my admiration as soon as I realised that they 
had ceased to be Jacobins. A marked fatality has ordained 
that of the sixty revolutionaries who signed my marriage 
contract, only two friends remain to me now, Danton and 
Robespierre. All the others have emigrated or are guillotined. 
Of this number were seven of the twenty-two. A movement 
of emotion was surely very pardonable in me on this occasion. 
Notwithstanding, I swear that I did not say : ' They die as 
republicans, like Brutus,' but I said : ' They die as republicans, 
but as federalist republicans,' because I do not believe that there 
were any Royalists amongst them." 

Camille's speech appears to have had its effect. 
Moreover, he was still popular with the majority of 
the members of the Club. 

" Camille has been unlucky in his choice of friends," 
cried one of the Jacobins present. " Let us prove to 
him that we know how to choose ours better, by wel- 
coming him warmly." 

Robespierre himself rose to defend his young col- 
league, although one cannot help thinking that the 
excuses which he brought forward must have been 
almost as galling to touchy, hot-tempered Camille as 
the previous accusations had been. Robespierre 
apologised for his friend on the score of what he called 
his " weaknesses." 

" He is easily led and over-confident," he said ; " but he has 
always been a Republican. He loved Mirabeau, Lameth, 
Dillon : but he has himself broken his idols when he found 


that he had been deceived. I adjure him to pursue his career 
with confidence, but to be more reserved in the future, and to 
endeavour not to be deceived with regard to the men who 
play a great part upon the poHtical stage." 

This was the attitude which Robespierre constantly 
took up towards Camille and his conduct, and which the 
latter was to resent in the end to his cost. He treated 
the younger man as a spoilt boy, scarcely responsible 
for his actions, whom one must not take too seriously. 

At this time Robespierre's word was law at the 
Jacobins, and the accusation against the journalist was 
withdrawn amidst acclamations. 

Nevertheless the slight suspicions which Camille 
had brought upon himself in the summer by his 
attitude with regard to Dillon were perceptibly 
increased. The extreme party no longer looked upon 
him as an untainted patriot. This feeling of uneasiness 
respecting him had been still further accentuated by 
his defence of Philippeaux. 

This honest and upright Republican had lately 
returned from the Vendean provinces, enraged, partly 
from political, partly from personal motives, against 
the general staff of the Conventional Army at Saumur, 
which included Ronsin, Rossignol and others of the 
most advanced party. On the 1 8th Nivose Philippeaux 
made a vehement speech at the Convention, in which 
he denounced the cruelties practised by the Republican 
generals, and demanded mercy for the Vendeans. 

Not content with the storm of opposition which he 
raised against himself, both within and without the 
Hall of the Assembly, Philippeaux then published a 
pamphlet which attracted a great deal of attention. 
In this he repeated his accusations against the com- 
manders in La Vendee, with additions, and accused 
Ronsin in particular of the most pronounced treason. 

Camille up to this time appears to have known 
little or nothing of Philippeaux, but he found himself 
entirely in agreement with the writer's views. The 


" enrages " in La Vendee then were as bad as those in 
Paris — that was just what might have been expected. 
The journaHst admired Philippeaux's courage and 
frankness without taking into consideration that, to a 
certain extent, he was Winded by personal animosity. 
Camille praised the pamphlet openly on every occa- 
sion, and the commendation of one of the most 
brilliant writers in Paris naturally helped materially 
to popularise Philippeaux's philippic, at least in the 

On December 15th, two days after Camille had 
temporarily cleared his character at the Jacobins, the 
third number of the " Vieux Cordelier " was 
published, that famous third number which brought 
down upon the head of its author the wrath of the 
Jacobins, and which forced Robespierre to abjure his 
former disciple from fear of possible consequences. 

It is in these third and fourth numbers of the new 
journal that Camille accomplished his greatest work, 
both in a literary and in a moral sense. Had they 
never been written, he would be remembered as a 
brilliant journalist, whose pen served some good and 
many bad purposes, and his personality must always 
have been interesting to students of history and human 
nature. But, nevertheless, his career would not have 
merited any very serious attention ; he would indeed 
have appeared only as the weathercock of the Revolu- 
tion, an indicator of varying winds, but without 
objective force of his own. 

By the publication of these two issues of the 
" Vieux Cordelier " Camille set himself upon an 
altogether different plane. Hitherto he had worked 
for his own reputation's sake, to express his ov^^n views, 
or those of the men who influenced him at the time ; 
now he was labouring to save the lives of others and 
to touch the hearts of the people that they might join 
in his appeal for mercy. 

In this famous Number Three Camille adopted a 


simple, but extraordinarily effective method. It is 
the most masterly example of his adaptation of history 
to suit his purposes. Whilst affecting to give only a trans- 
lation from Tacitus, he makes a determined and power- 
ful attack upon the Terrorist " Law of Suspects." 

Camille may, as he says, have intended merely to 
convey a warning, but the picture was too exact to 
be otherwise than a deadly offence against the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety and the " ultras." Never 
was there a more scathing satire, and its absolute and 
undeniable truth made it the more unanswerable and 
enraging. For the simile is only too exact : the law of 
" suspect " of Tacitus is no more than a prototype of 
that which had been decreed in Paris. 

The writer claims in this very number that he is 
shielded by the law of the liberty of the Press, and he 
dares any man to assert that one may not write as 
freely in France as in England. Camille was mis- 
taken ; he had gone too far. 

In order that Camille may be fairly judged, it will 
be necessary to quote freely from this work of his, but 
an apology for doing so is scarcely needed. He explains 
the method which he adopted as follows : — 

" Since the Republic and the Monarchy are even now engaged 
in a war to the death, which must inevitably end in a bloody 
victory for one or the other, who would deplore the triumph 
of the Republic after having read the description which 
history has left to us of the triumph of a Monarchy, after 
having thrown a glance upon the rough and unpoHshed copy 
of the picture of Tacitus which I am going to present to the 
honourable circle of my subscribers ? " 

So far, so good ; it was in that same " rough and 
unpolished copy of Tacitus " that the sting of Camille's 
satire lay. It is only necessary to read the extracts 
which follow : — 

" ' Augustus was the first to extend the law of lese-majeste, 
in which he comprised writings which he called counter- 
revolutionary. ... As soon as words had become state crimes, 


it was only a step to transform into offences mere glances, 
sorrow, compassion, sighs, silence even. 

" ' Soon it was the crime of lese-majeste or of counter- 
revolution in the town of Nursia to have raised a monument 
to its citizens, slain at the siege of Modena when fighting under 
Augustus himself, because at that time Augustus fought upon 
the side of Brutus. . . . 

" ' Crime of counter-revolution in the mother of the consul 
Fusius Geminus, to have wept over the mournful death of 
her son. It was necessary to display joy at the death of a friend, 
or of a relation if one did not wish to run the risk of perishing 
oneself. . . . Everything gave offence to the tyrants. Was 
a citizen popular ? He was then a rival to the prince, and 
doubtless wished to stir up a civil war : Studia civium in se 
verteret et si multi idem audeant^ belluni esse. Suspect. 

" ' If, on the contrary, a man fled from popularity and hid 
himself in his own chimney-corner ; this retired life made 
him remarkable, gave rise to consideration : Quanta metu 
occultior, tanto fames adeptus. Suspect. 

" * Were you rich ? There was imminent peril that the 
people would be corrupted by your gifts : Auri vim atque opes 
Plauti principi injensas. Suspect. 

" ' Were you poor ? Hold ! Invincible Emperor, it is 
necessary to watch this man very closely. Nobody is so enter- 
prising as he who has nothing. Syllam inopem, unde precipuam 
audaciam. Suspect. 

" ' Were you of a sombre and melancholy character, neglect- 
ing your appearance ; doubtless that which grieved you was 
the prosperous state of public affairs. Hominem bonis publicis 
moestum. Suspect. 

" ' If, on the contrary, a citizen gave himself over to re- 
velling and feasting, he diverted himself because the Emperor 
had had that attack of gout which happily came to nothing ; 
it was necessary to make him feel that his Majesty was still 
in the full vigour of his age. Reddendam pro intempestiva 
licentia moestum etfunebrem noctum qua sentiat vivere Vitellium 
et imperare. Suspect. 

" ' Was he virtuous and austere in his manners ; good ! A 
new Brutus who affects by his pallor and his cropped hair to 
censure an amiable and well-curled court. Gliscere oemulos 
Brutorum vultus rigidi et tristis quo tibi lasciviam exprobent. 


" ' Was he a philosopher, an orator, or a poet ? It might 
happen that he would gain more renown than those who 
governed ! Could one allow more attention to be paid to an 
author on a fourth floor, than to the Emperor in his iron- 
barred palace ? Firginuni et Rufum claritudo nominis. Suspect. 

" ' Finally, if a man had acquired a reputation in the wars, 
he was only the more dangerous by reason of his talents. . . . 
The best way is to get rid of him. At least, my lord, can you 
not dispense with his services, and withdraw him promptly 
from the army ? Multa militari jama metumjecerat. Suspect. 

" ' One might well believe that it was a very bad thing to be 
the grandson or otherwise related to Augustus ; one might 
some day be supposed to have pretensions to the throne. 
Nobiem et quod tunc sfectaretur e Ccesarum fosteris ! Suspect.' " 

Afterwards at considerable length Camille develops 
his argument that the counter-revolution (embodied 
in the person of " Pitt ") is working by means of the 
ultra-revolutionaries. Towards the end of the number 
he boldly acknowledges his consciousness of the 
parallel which he has drawn. 

" It is undoubted that in this Number Three and in my 
translation from Tacitus, malignity will find some resemblance 
between these deplorable times and our own. I know it well, 
and I have armed myself with my pen for the sole purpose of 
striving to put an end to these resemblances, so that liberty 
may no more appear like despotism. ... I make no pretence 
of pointing out anybody in particular in this number. . . . 
Let those men hasten to correct their conduct who, in reading 
these living pictures of tyranny, find there some likeness to 
themselves ; because it is impossible to persuade oneself that 
the portrait of a tyrant, drawn by the hand of the greatest 
painter of antiquity, and by the historian of philosophers, can 
now have become the portrait, taken from nature, of Cato or of 
Brutus, and that this which Tacitus called despotism and the 
worst of governments sixteen centuries ago, can to-day be 
called liberty and the best of all possible worlds." 

In order that one may grasp the full aptness of 
Camille's satire, it is as well to compare with his 
translation from Tacitus the literal text of the 


Terrorist law of " suspect " as stated by Chaumette in 
one of the sittings of the Commune of Paris on 
October 12th, 1793. 

" Those should be regarded as suspected," he said on that 
occasion, " (i) who, in the assembHes of the people, arrest 
their energy by astute discourses, by turbulent cries and by 

" (2) Those who, more prudent, speak mysteriously of the 
misfortunes of the Repubhc, deplore the fate of the people, and 
are always ready to spread bad news with affected sorrow. 

" (3) Those who have changed their conduct and their 
language according to events ; who, mute as to the crimes of 
royalists and of federalists, declaim with emphasis against the 
light faults of patriots, or affect, to appear republican, an 
austerity, a studied severity. . . . 

" Those who have not taken any active part in the Revolu- 
tion, and who, to exculpate themselves, think to atone by the 
value of their patriotic gifts, for their non-payment of con- 

" Those who have received with indifference the Republican 
Constitution, and those who have expressed false fears upon 
its establishment and its duration. 

" Those who, having done nothing against liberty, have also 
done nothing for her. 

" Those who neglect to go to their sections, and who give 
for excuse that they do not know how to speak, or that their 
affairs detain them." 

Can one wonder at the indignation of the Jacobins ? 
Camille, as usual, had chosen the most effective weapon 
at his disposal. In this case, nothing could wound 
more deeply or more dangerously than the plain and 
practically unvarnished truth. 


THE appearance of the third number of the 
" Vieux Cordeher " caused an immense 
sensation in Paris, and, indeed, throughout 
France. It is said that some fifty thousand 
copies each were sold of the third and fourth issues 
of the paper. 

As Camille himself had foreseen, the Royalists made 
great capital out of the attitude which he had taken up 
in " No. 3." The journalist might protest as much 
as he pleased against a misconception of his policy 
on the part of the counter-revolutionaries, but the fact 
remains — to his credit — that he had undoubtedly 
helped their cause. M. Louis Blanc, from the point 
of view of an extreme Republican, of course regrets 
Camille's course of action, but he estimates the 
situation, on the whole, very justly. 

"The publication of this third number upon the 15th 
December," he writes, "was the signal for an immense 
scandal. All the counter-revolutionaries clapped their hands, 
all hastened to spread the news abroad that Camille Desmoulins 
had traced the history of his own epoch ; against his will, the 
generous but rash writer had, in giving hope to the innocent, 
served the calculations of hatred." 

Camille had indeed " given hope to the innocent." 
His journal was read even in the prisons, where those 
incarcerated saw, for the first time, a glimmer of hope, 
a possibility of justice, if not of mercy. One can only 
appreciate their incredulous joy at this changed attitude 
of Camille's by remembering that hitherto he had 
been looked upon as one of the most extreme of the 
Revolutionary journalists. Letters came to him from 



prisoners and their friends or relations in all parts of 
France ; one can fancy that he — not lacking in a 
sense of humour — read these epistles with somewhat 
mixed feelings. 

Nor had there been wanting direct results from the 
publication of the third number. M. Aulard tells us, 
in his " Political History of the French Revolution," 
that, upon December 20th, a deputation of women 
came to the bar of the Convention, demanding with 
tears the liberation of their imprisoned relatives. The 
deputies were moved to pity, and it was decreed that 
the two Government Committees should appoint a 
Committee of Justice to " look into the means of 
setting at liberty such patriots as might have been 

Here was a definite outcome of Camille's appeal : 
here was the " Committee of Clemency " which he 
demanded in actual process of formation. But it was 
not to be. Robespierre was beginning to dread the 
loss of his power. He feared that such a step as this 
would unduly increase the influence of the Dantonists, 
and he accordingly induced the Convention to revoke 
the decree which established this Committee of Justice. 

Michelet apparently believes that it was upon 
December 13th that this deputation of women 
appeared at the Convention, that is, before the third 
number of the " Vieux Cordelier " was published. 
However, in this instance, there can be little or no 
doubt that the date given by M. Aulard is correct. 

Camille did not hesitate to temporise now that he 
had definitely adopted a policy. The next issue of his 
paper appeared upon December 20th, only five days 
after the appearance of the last number. As regards 
the extraordinary reception which this Number Four 
received, we cannot do better than quote Michelet's 
eloquent words. 

" Upon the 2ist of December," he says, " early in the morn- 
ing a long queue of purchasers gathered at the door of the book- 


seller, Desenne, who fought with each other for the possession 
of the fourth number. They paid for it at second hand, at 
third hand, the price rose always, until it reached as much as 
a louis for one copy. People read it in the streets in their 
impatience, choked with tears. From the very heart of France 
had burst forth the voice of humanity, of blind, impatient, 
all-powerful pity, that voice of compassion which pierces 
through walls, which beats down strong fortresses . . , the 
clarion cry which will touch all souls for ever, the demand for 
a ' Committee of Clemency ! ' " 

In a few vivid words the great historian gives us here 
a pathetic picture of that impatient frenzied crowd, 
waiting in the bleak cold of the dark winter's morning 
for the flimsy news-sheets which bore the words of 
hope to thousands. For Camille Desmoulins had not 
disappointed that host of subscribers. If he had gone 
far in number three of the " Vieux Cordelier," he went 
still further in the fourth issue ; his appeal for mercy 
rang out clearly this time, and with no hint of un- 

It is quite plain that Camille still believed 
that Robespierre would support him. He says so, 
in fact, in a manner which allows of no miscon- 

" Oh, my dear Robespierre," he writes in this same fourth 
number "... oh, my old college comrade, dost thou not 
remember those lessons of history and philosophy in which we 
learnt that love is more strong and more durable than fear ? 
. . . You have already come close to this idea." 

These words must have been very bitter to Robes- 
pierre a little later, when his one thought was to 
dissociate himself from Camille and his policy by 
every means in his power. 

This number four is headed by a quotation from J. J. 
Rousseau's " Contrat Social " : " Le plus fort n'est 
jamais assez fort pour etre toujours le maitre, s'il ne 
transforme sa force en droit." 

At the very beginning Camille defends himself 


stoutly against the charges of unpatriotism which 
have been brought against him. 

" Many people have disapproved of my No. 3, ;n which I 
have been pleased, they say, to make comparisons which tend 
to throw the Republic and patriots into disfavour : they 
ought, however, to say the excess of the Revohition and the 

Camille goes on to protest against those who assert 
that Liberty must needs pass through a stormy and 
troublous childhood. According to him, she is born 
full-grown and should at once bring in her train all 
peace and happiness. Let us destroy our enemies by 
all means, he cries, but do not let us go further and 
kill all those harmless lookers-on, the people who are 
merely carried away by the impulse of the moment, 
or by the power of an orator. 

" No, this Liberty descended from Heaven is not a nymph 
of the Opera, not a red cap, a dirty shirt, or rags and tatters. 
Liberty is happiness, reason, equality ; she is justice, she is 
embodied in the Declaration of Rights, in your sublime 
Constitution ! Do you wish me to recognise her, to fall at 
her feet, to shed my blood in her service ? Open the doors of 
the prisons to those two hundred thousand citizens whom you 
call ' suspects ' ; because in the Declaration of Rights there 
is no house of suspicion, there are only houses of detention ; 
there are no suspected persons, only those convicted of crimes 
fixed by the law. And do not believe that this measure would 
be harmful to the Republic. It would be the most Revolu- 
tionary measure that you could possibly take. You think to 
exterminate ail your enemies by means of the guillotine ! 
But could there possibly be greater folly ? Can you kill one 
person upon the scaffold without making for yourself ten more 
enemies amongst his family or his friends ? " 

Camille then goes on to develop his argument 
further. He lays stress on the fact that the unfortu- 
nates who crowd the prisons of Paris are not worthy 
of the mighty anger of the Republic ; they are only 
women, children, old men, the sick and the cowardly — 


capable neither of much good nor of much evil. It 
were far better to leave them to sit harmlessly in their 
chimney corners. 

Then the journalist strikes a graver note. These 
constant executions, he says, are demoralising to the 
people of Paris : they constitute a serious danger to 
the State. " It is not love for the Republic which 
draws all the world daily to the Place de la Revolution, 
but curiosity and the anticipation of that unique 
drama which can have but one single representation. 
I am sure that the greater number of those who 
habitually view this spectacle, in the depths of their 
hearts mock at their neighbours who, at the opera or 
at a tragedy see only a pasteboard sword, and come- 
dians who do but simulate death. Such, says Tacitus, 
was the insensibility of the city of Rome, its unnatural 
security, and its perfect indifference towards the fate 
of all parties alike." 

And now followed that famous passage which was to 
prove Camille's death warrant in very truth, a passage 
which is best to be appreciated in its original language. 

" Je peux bien differemment de ceux qui vous disent qu'il 
faut laisser la terreur a I'ordre du jour. Je suis certain, au 
contraire, que la liberte serait consolidee et I'Europe vaincue, 
si vous aviez un comite de clemence ; c'est ce comite qui 
finirait la Revolution ; car la clemence est aussi une mesure 
revolutionnaire et la plus efficace de toutes, quand elle est 
distribuee avec sagesses. Que les imbeciles et les fripons 
m'appellent modere, s'ils le vc^ent ; je ne rougis point de 
n'etre pas plus enrage que Marcus Brutus. . . . 

" L'etablissement d'un comite de clemence me parait une 
idee grande et digne du peuple fran<5ais, effa^ant de sa memoire 
bien des fautes, puisqu'il en a efface le temps meme ou elles 
furent commises, et qu'il a cree une nouvelle ere de laquelle 
seule il date sa naissance et ces souvenirs. A ce mot de clemence 
quel patriote ne sent pas ses entrailles emues ? Car le patriot- 
isme est la plenitude de toutes les vertus, et ne peut pas con- 
sequemment exister la ou il n'y a ni humanite, ni philanthropie 
mais une ame aride and desseche par I'egoisme." 


These were bold words indeed when one considers 
that practically all the members of the great Com- 
mittee of Government were more or less to be included 
amongst the " enrages." It is no less boldly that 
Camille justifies himself at the conclusion of the 

" I have adopted, in my role of journalist, the liberty of 
opinion which belongs to the representative of the people in 
the Convention. I have expressed my opinions as to the best 
method of effecting a revolution in writing, since the feeble- 
ness of my voice and my slight oratorical powers will not permit 
me to develop them in another fashion. ... If, I say, my 
Committee of Clemency appears ill-sounding to some of my 
colleagues and savouring of moderation, to those who reproach 
me with being a moderate in this No. 4, I can respond, as did 
Marat, when, in very different times, we reproached him with 
over- violence in his journal : ' Vous n'y entendez rien ; eh, 
mon Dieu ! laissez-moi dise : on n'en rabattra que trop.' " 

It may assuredly be said of Camille's views with 
regard to the reign of peace and liberty that they were 
Utopian and impossible of realisation. He confidently 
expected a millennium to come to pass before its time. 
But at least it is an optimism which does his heart 
credit, and which, even now, lends to his words an 
irresistible appeal. 

Meanwhile the Hebertists were gathering them- 
selves together. It must be remembered that this 
was no mere newspaper war ; it was a life and death 
fight, with the guillotine as the punishment for defeat. 

Danton was in Paris once more, as we have seen, and 
combating the policy of the " enrages," but he had 
lost his once mighty influence both in the Convention 
and at the Clubs by his absence. Robespierre was still 
compassing the fall of the " ultras," but, none the 
less, he both disliked and feared Danton and dreaded 
that the great Tribune might regain his former power. 

On the 1st of Nivose (December 21st) Camille was 
denounced at the Jacobins by one Nicolas, a juror 


to the Revolutionaiy Tribunal. This man was also a 
printer and worked in this capacity for the Ministry 
of War and the Revolutionary Tribunal, by means of 
which he had become a wealthy man. He was, more- 
over, the devoted friend and adherent of Robespierre. 
As Camille himself said of him, in the fifth number of 
the " Vieux Cordeher " : " Nicolas est un gaillard 
grand et fort qui, arme d'une gros baton, suivant 
Robespierre partout et valait a lui seul, une compagnie 
de muscadins." 

This Nicolas then ascended the tribune especially 
to denounce the third number of the " Vieux Cor- 

" I rise," said he, " to denounce Camille Desmoulins. I 
accuse him of having written a Hbel with criminal and counter- 
revolutionary intentions. I appeal to those who have read it. 
Camille Desmoulins has been within a close shave of the 
guillotine for a long time ; as a proof it is only necessary to 
remind you of the steps which he took at the Revolutionary 
Committee af my section to save a bad citizen whom we had 
arrested by order of the Committee of Geperal Security, as 
accused of intimate correspondence with conspirators and of 
having sheltered the traitor Nantouillet in his house. I 
demand the expulsion of Camille Desmoulins from the bosom 
of this Society." 

This measure was supported by Camille's bitter 
enemy Hebert, and the journalist was invited to ex- 
plain the denunciations pronounced against him. 
Camille reserved his defence, as we shall see, for 
publication in his fifth number, but meanwhile his 
enemies were gathering around him. 

A new champion had appeared upon the side of the 
Jacobins. Collot d'Herbois arrived in Paris on 
December 21st somewhat unexpectedly, fresh from 
consummating the Terror in Lyons. He openly 
supported Hebert and his partisans against Camille 
in the Convention and at the Clubs. Yet another of 
Camille's greatest enemies returned from the frontier 


at this moment. Austere, implacable Saint-Just took 
his place beside his master, Robespierre, hating the 
Hebertists, it is true, yet hating Camille even more, 
and with a bitterer personal animosity. 

Truly the over-bold journalist was hemmed in on 
every side. It only remained for Robespierre to desert 
him, and that was soon to come. As von Sybel says, 
the attitude of the incorruptible Maximilian at this 
juncture was extraordinary throughout ; it is only 
explicable when one remembers the strange streak of 
cowardice in this man. 

After the appearance of Camille's No. 4, the Club 
of the Cordeliers cast him out. At the beginning of 
his fifth number, which, although dated Nivose 5th 
(December 25th), did not appear until Nivose i6th 
(January 5th, 1794), the journalist laughs at the idea 
of this expulsion. 

" Voyaiit que le pere Duchesne, et presque toutes les 
sentinelles patriotes, se tenaient sur le tillac avec leurs lunettes 
occupes uniquement a crier : ' Gare ! Vous touchez au 
moderantisme ! ' il a bien fallu que moi, vieux Cordelier et 
doyen des Jacobins, je me chargeasse de la faction difficile, e : 
dont aucun des jeunes gens ne voulait, par crainte de se 
depopulariser ; celle de crier : * Gare ! Vous allez toucher a 
I'exageration ! ' . . . Pardon, freres et amis, si j'ose prendre 
encore le titre de ' Vieux Cordelier ' apres I'arrete du Club, 
qui me defend de me parer de ce nom. Mais, en verite, c'est 
une insolence si inouie que celle de petit-fils se revoltant centre 
leur grand-pere, et lui defendant de porter son nom que je 
veux plaider cette cause centre ces fils ingrats." 

In this number Camille attacked his enemies per- 
sonally. He made unsparing use of that dangerous 
weapon of ridicule which had already created against 
him those bitter foes who were hunting him down. 
He proceeds at first to rebut the accusations of royalism 
and conspiracy, brought against him by Nicolas, raising 
counter-accusations of bribery and corruption. The 
concluding phrase is totally untranslatable, referring 


as it does to Nicolas' slang expression that : " Camille 
had shaved (frise) the guillotine pretty closely." 

" C'est ainsi que moi, je suis un aristocrate qui frise la 
guillotine et que Nicolas est un sans-culotte qui frise la for- 

" However," Camille continues, " the ' hit-hards ' have 
believed Nicolas rather than Robespierre ; and already in 
groups they call me a conspirator. It is true, citizens, that for 
five years I have conspired to render France Republican, happy 
and flourishing." 

Then follows the account, already given, of that 
great day, July 12th, 1789. In vivid and moving 
language the journalist recalls the occasion, for he is 
using the recollection of his own part in that event 
as a plea for his honour and for his life. 

Then, having justified himself before the people, he 
turns again upon the " ultras," jeering at them with 
more than his old bitter raillery. Barere, speaking 
in the name of the Committee of Public Safety, had 
solemnly denounced Camille's attitude. 

" Very well," says the journalist, " one day posterity will 
judge between the ' suspects ' of Barere, and the ' suspects ' of 
Tacitus. In the meantime, the patriots shall be satisfied in 
my respect ; because, after this solemn censure, I have acted 
like Fenelon, who mounted into the pulpit to read aloud the 
brief of the Pope, condemning his ' Maxims of the Saints,' and 
tore them up himself; I am ready to burn my Number 3 ; 
and already I have forbidden Desenne to reprint it, at least 

This seeming acquiescence of Camille in their 
decrees cannot have been a source of any particular 
satisfaction to Barere or to his colleagues upon the 
Committee of Public Safety ; more especially when we 
read what follows. Is it Barere^ the journalist asks, 
who blames him thus from the tribune ? 

" If it had been an old Cordelier like myself, a right-angled 
patriot like Billaud-Varennes, for example, who had attacked 


me so severely ... but thou, my dear Barere, thou, the 
President of the Feuillants, thou who hast proposed the 
Committee of Twelve . . . thou against whom I could bring 
up many other faults if I wished to foul the ' Vieux-Sac ' . . . 
thou, who hast all at once out-Robespierred Robespierre ! " 

But it is Hebert whom Camille attacks most fiercely, 
doubtless still feeling quite confident here of the 
support of Robespierre. He assails the unspeakable 
" Pere Duchesne " with all the virulence of which he 
is capable. He accuses Hebert of being an " ecrivain 
engage " bought and bribed by Bouchotte and others 
to calumniate Danton, Philippeaux and Camille 
himself. He ends his tirade with this terrible 
passage : — 

" Dost thou not know, Hebert, that when the tyrants of 
Europe wish to vilify the Republic, when they wish to cause it 
to be believed that France is covered with the darkness of 
barbarism, that Paris, so praised for its Attic glory and taste, 
is peopled by Vandals ; dost thou not know, wretched man, 
that to gain their ends it is extracts from thy writings that they 
insert in their gazettes ? As if the people were as ignorant and 
stupid as thou wouldst have Mr. Pitt believe them to be ; as 
if no one could speak to him save in language like thine, as if 
such was the speech of the Convention and of the Committee 
of Public Safety ; as if thy filthiness was that of the nation ; 
as if a sewer of Paris were the Seine ! " 

Amongst Plebert's furious and often impotent 
accusations against Camille had been this, that the 
journalist had married a rich wife, coupled with some 
of those foul innuendoes which were the natural 
language of " Pere Duchesne." There is much simple 
dignity in the words wherein Camille answers this 
accusation and vindicates the unsullied happiness of 
his married life. We have quoted from this passage 
in an earlier chapter, but we will give it here in its 
entirety. It touches a deeper and a graver note than 
can be found in all the bitter raillery of the remainder 
of this number ; there is in it something intimate and 


personal ; a revelation of the tenderer, happier side of 
Camille's life. It is one of those passages in his writings 
for which we love the man ; where he speaks from his 
heart, as it were, driven by an irresistible impulse. 

" I will only say one word about my wife. I have always 
believed in the immortality of the soul. After the many 
sacrifices of personal interests which I have made to liberty 
and for the happiness of the people, I have said, at the height 
of the persecution : ' There must be some recompense for 
virtue elsewhere.' But my marriage is so happy, my domestic 
bliss so great, that I feared to have received my recompense 
already upon earth, and I almost lost my confidence in immor- 
tality. But thy persecutions, thy rage against me, thy cowardly 
calumnies have rendered back to me all my hope. 

" As to the fortune of my wife, she brought me an income of 
four thousand livres, which is all that I possess. In this 
revolution where, if I may be permitted to say it, I have played 
a sufficiently large part, where I have been a polemical writer, 
importuned turn by turn by all parties, who have found me 
incorruptible, where, some time before the loth of August, 
they bargained even for my silence, and that at a high price. 
Ah, well, in this revolution where I have filled successively the 
posts of Secretary-General to the Department of Justice and 
that of representative of the people to the Convention, my 
fortune has not been increased by so much as one sou. Hebert, 
can you say as much for yourself ? " 

Towards the end of this fifth number Camille rises 
to a height of eloquence which almost seems inspired, 
nay, which was inspired, in the highest sense of the 

" Oh, my colleagues, I say to you as Brutus did to Cicero : 
' We are too much afraid of death, exile and poverty — 
Nimium timemu mortem et exilium et paupertatem.' Is this 
life worth being prolonged at the expense of honour ? . . . 
Ah, why ! when every day twelve hundred thousand French 
soldiers face redoubts bristling with cannon, and fly from 
victory to victory ; we, deputies to the Convention, we who 
cannot fall like the soldiers in the obscurity of night, shot down 
in the shadows, without witnesses of their valour, we, in whom 


death endured for liberty can only be glorious, solemn and in 
the presence of the entire nation, of Europe and of posterity — 
shall we be more cowardly than our soldiers ? Shall we fear to 
expose ourselves, and to meet Bouchotte face to face ? Shall 
we not dare to brave ' the great anger of " Pere Duchesne " ' ? 
— to gain thus the great victory awaited by the French people ; 
the victory over the ultra-revolutionaries as well as the counter- 
revolutionaries ; the victory over all those who intrigue, all 
the rascals, all the ambitious, all the enemies of the public 
well-being ? , . . Let us occupy ourselves, oh, my colleagues, 
not in defending our own lives like sick men, but in defending 
our liberty and our principles like Republicans ! And even if, 
which seems impossible, calumny and crime should, for a 
moment, triumph over virtue, can one believe that, even upon 
the scaffold, sustained by the consciousness that I have loved 
my country and the Republic passionately, sustained by the 
thought of the eternal testimony of the centuries, surrounded 
by the esteem and regret of all true republicans ; can one 
believe, I say, that I would wish to change my fate for the 
fortune of that miserable Hebert, who, in his journal, drives to 
despair twenty classes of citizens and more than three millions 
of Frenchmen, of whom he says anathema, and whom he con- 
signs to death sweepingly, in one common conscription ; who, 
to stiffe his remorse and his calumnies, has been obliged to 
resort to a drunkenness more complete than that of wine, and 
to lick, unceasingly, the blood at the foot of the guillotine ! 

" What then is the scaffold for a patriot save the pedestal of 
Sidney and of Jean de Witt ? What in this time of warfare, 
where I have seen my two brothers mutilated and hacked for 
liberty, what is the guillotine more than a sabre-cut, and the 
most glorious of all deaths for a deputy who dies, the victim of 
his courage and of his republicanism ? " 

In the course of this number Camille, speaking of 
his early republicanism, boasted that : " Certainly, 
the ' Procureur General de la Lanterne,' in 1789, 
was as good a revolutionary as Hebert, who, at that 
time, opened the doors to him, bowing to the ground." 

This reference was an ill-timed one on Camille's 
part. He laid himself open thereby to the attack of 
Hebert, who assailed him with a weapon which was. 


of all those that could be used, the one most calculated 
to wound him deeply. Camille cared nothing for 
accusations of moderatism, or even royalism, but it 
was left to the " Pere Duchesne " to assail him in his 
most vulnerable spot, to recall the remembrance of his 
former errors. 

This is " The answer of J. R. Hebert, author of the 
' Pere Duchesne,' to Camille Desmouhns and Com- 

" Here, my brave sans-culottes, here is a great man whom 
you have forgotten ; it is truly ungrateful of you, for he 
declares that, without him, there would never have been a 
revolution. Formerly he called himself ' Procureur General de 
la Lanterne.' You think I am speaking of that famous cut- 
throat whose celebrated beard made the aristocrats take 
flight ; no, he of whom we speak boasts that he is the most 
pacific of men. To believe him, he has no more gall than a 
pigeon ; he is so sensitive that he never hears the word ' guillo- 
tine ' without shivering to his very bones ; he is a great teacher, 
who, in his own person, has more wisdom than all the patriots 
put together, and more judgment than the entire Convention ; 
it is a great pity that he cannot speak : or he would prove to 
the ' Moniteur ' and the Committee of Public Safety that 
they have no common sense. But, if he cannot speak. Master 
Camille can make up for it by writing, to the great satisfaction 
of the moderates, Royalists, and aristocrats." 

There was a terrible undercurrent of truth beneath 
these words of Hebert's which caused them to be 
almost unanswerable. 


A T last Camille had gone too far. Even while 

/% he still believed that he was expressing the 
A — % sentiments of Robespierre, that same 
JL JL. " old comrade " was preparing to desert 
him. Whatever his private views may have been, the 
elder man dared not risk the loss of his popularity. 
He had that complete control over his feelings 
which Camille, fortunately for humanity, did not 

On December 21st, as we have seen, Collot d'Herbois 
returned from Lyons, and at once showed himself as 
Camille's enemy. The journalist says, in the fifth 
number of the " Vieux Cordelier," that Collot 
attacked him at the Jacobins early in Nivose, but " not 
by name." It would seem, nevertheless, that Camille 
was indicated quite unmistakably in one of those 
melodramatic speeches, by means of which the ex- 
actor was in the habit of appealing to the gallery. 
" He made a veritable tragedy," writes Camille, " to 
excite the passions of the tribunes against me." 

There was a special session of the Jacobins on 
Nivose 1 6th (January 5th), the very day on which 
the fifth number of the " Vieux Cordelier " was 
for sale. The hall was densely crowded, and very 
high prices were paid to obtain seats to hear the 

Collot had gauged the feeling of the Club ; he knew 
that the sympathy of the majority of the members was 
with him. Accordingly he rose at the opening of the 
session to demand that the conduct of Camille and 
Philippeaux be examined into further. On the whole, 



his speech was more moderate than might have been 
expected. His attack was directed especially against 
Philippeaux, whom he accused, in effect, of conspiring 
against the Revolution with Fabre d'Eglantine and 

Collot treated Camille much more gently. He said 
that he was convinced of the journalist's genuine 
patriotism, but believed that he had been misled by 
bad company. In words that were patronisingly 
contemptuous, he advised Camille to be more careful 
in the future, and asked only that the rash writer 
should be censured. 

Now Collot, knowingly or unknowingly, had chosen 
the very worst line to take where Camille was con- 
cerned. Burning to prove that he was not to be 
treated thus lightly, the journalist demanded that his 
last number should be read aloud immediately, since 
it contained his own defence. 

When this motion was proposed by the President, 
Hebert violently opposed the reading of Camille's 
paper. Doubtless he had already seen it, and he 
dreaded the effect upon the Club of that astounding 
and crushing indictment of himself which the number 

" Camille wishes to turn people's attention from 
himself, to complicate the discussion ! " cried Hebert. 
" He accuses me of having robbed the treasury — it is 
an infamous falsehood ! " 

" I have the proofs of it in my hand ! " shouted 
back Camille. 

As may be imagined, such words as these caused an 
immense sensation. Robespierre the younger rose in 
an attempt to calm the tumult which ensued. 

" These personalities should not be allowed," he 
said. " The Society does not meet to protect private 
reputations ; if Hebert is a thief, what does it matter 
to us ? Those who have reproaches to make ought not 
to interrupt the general discussion." 


" I have nothing with which to reproach myself ! " 
cried Hebert, furious at this contemptuous dismissal 
of his case. 

" The dissensions in the departments are your work," 
retorted Augustin Robespierre. " You have helped to 
stir them up by attacking the liberty of the sects." 

This downright accusation silenced Hebert, and 
Maximilian Robespierre now rose to speak. He was 
more moderate and conciliatory than his younger 
brother had been, but scarcely less bitter against 
Hebert. He endeavoured to pacify all parties, 
insisting that these personal quarrels ought to be laid 
aside when the interests of the Republic were at stake. 
Robespierre, however, showed plainly enough what 
were his feelings with regard to Hebert. He inferred, 
in fact, that it was unnecessary to discuss Camille's 
attacks upon the editor of " Pere Duchesne," since all 
the world knew how well-founded they were. 

Finally Robespierre insisted that the debate should 
be confined to CoUot's original motion, the discussion 
of Philippeaux's conduct in attacking the leaders of the 
army in La Vendee. Camille and his affairs were 
shelved for the time being. The remainder of this 
sitting was occupied in the cross-questioning of a large 
number of witnesses against Philippeaux. 

On Nivose i8th (January 7th) this business should 
have been resumed, but the principal person concerned 
was not present. Philippeaux absented himself, 
thoroughly weary of the seemingly endless discussion 
of his conduct and motives. The Club accordingly 
turned its attention to the affairs of Bourdon (de 
I'Oise), Fabre d'Eglantine and Camille. Their names 
were called three times without any reply being 
received, but just as Robespierre made the suggestion 
that public opinion should judge them in their 
absence, Camille appeared in the hall. 

He was at once summoned to explain his relations 
with Philippeaux, and the unguarded way in which he 


had praised both him and his pamphlet. Camille 
answered these accusations somewhat evasively. He 
said, in effect, what was in fact true, that he scarcely 
knew Philippeaux personally. He had been carried 
away by his writings, without enquiring into their 
truth : he retracted his ill-considered praise, and, in 
short, had no opinion in the matter, one way or the 

It must be confessed that this self-defence of 
Camille's did not carry conviction ; by tacitly con- 
fessing that he had been over-hasty and lacking in 
judgment, he laid himself open to accusations of 
weakness, if no worse. 

It is plain that the subterfuge by which, on the 1 6th 
Nivose, Robespierre had prevented No. 5 of the 
" Vieux Cordelier " from being read aloud, was kindly 
meant. He had no wish to sacrifice Camille ; it would 
seem that he was as fond of him as his cold nature 
permitted, and the journalist did not stand in his path 
to dictatorship as did Danton. 

Yet it is impossible not to suspect self-interest 
beneath this seeming tolerance. It must be re- 
membered that the " Vieux Cordelier " had been 
published hitherto under the auspices of Robespierre ; 
he had corrected the proofs of most of the issues, it is 
probable that he had even seen this very No. 5 before 
it was printed. But a fortnight had elapsed between 
the completion and the publication of this fifth issue, 
and Robespierre had had time to repent of his temerity 
in lending his support to Camille's enterprise, to see 
plainly whither all this was tending, and to resolve 
that he would not be implicated in the downfall of the 
headstrong journalist. 

If Camille had yielded gracefully and obediently to 
Robespierre's will ; if he had abjured his over-bold 
writings, pleaded that he had indeed been misled in 
publishing them, it is possible that he might have 
been saved. But Camille, to his everlasting honour, 


did not retract that which he had written, and if, in 
consequence, he lost his Hfe, he gained hy that 
stubbornness the respect of future generations. 

After Camille's hesitating apology for his eulogies of 
Philippeaux, Robespierre rose to defend his young 
colleague. We must remember, in common justice, 
that there is this to be said for the method which 
Maximilian adopted ; it was probably the only possible 
way by which, if Camille had been disposed to take 
advantage of it, he might have been saved from the 
fury of the extreme party and those of the Committee 
who were his violent personal enemies. The fault of 
Robespierre's defence lay in the fact that he had taken 
up the worst possible line of treatment as far as 
Camille, personally, was concerned ; and this he did, 
probably, from sheer ignorance of human nature, and 
want of appreciation of a character so alien to his own 
as was that of the journalist. 

" I have several times taken up the defence of 
Camille," said Robespierre. " I permitted myself 
then some reflections on his character ; friendship 
allowed this ; but to-day I am forced to adopt 
a different tone. Camille promised to abjure the 
political heresies, the erroneous, ill-sounding proposi- 
tions which cover all the pages of the ' Vieux Cor- 
delier.' Camille, puffed by the prodigious success 
of his numbers, and the perfidious praise that the 
aristocrats heap upon him, has not abandoned the 
path which error had traced for him. His writings are 
dangerous ; they nourish the hopes of our enemies and 
favour public malignity. . . . The writings of Camille 
are condemnable ; but notwithstanding it is necessary 
to distinguish carefully the person from his works. 
Camille is a spoilt child who has good dispositions, but 
whom bad companions have misled. It is necessary 
to protest against his numbers, which Brissot himself 
would not have dared to avow, and to preserve 
Desmoulins in the midst of us. I demand, in conse- 


quence, that the numbers of Camille's paper shall be 
burnt in the Society." 

During Robespierre's speech Camille's anger and 
indignation had been growing to fever heat. He was 
both bewildered and infuriated at this change of front 
on the part of his friend. Could this be Robespierre 
who was speaking — Robespierre, who had guided his 
pen in the beginning, who had corrected the proofs 
of the " Vieux Cordelier " with his own hand ? 
Disregarding the veiled threats, Camille chafed 
impotently at the contemptuous indulgence of Robes- 
pierre's tone. 

At last he saw his opportunity ; the speaker gave him 
the opening for a retort. Without pause for con- 
sideration Camille sprang from his seat. 

" That is all very well, Robespierre ! " he cried, 
clearly and without his usual stammer. " But I reply, 
like Rousseau : ' To burn is not to answer ! ' " 

At this bold retort Robespierre lost patience. It is 
probable that he was really conscious of doing the best 
he could for Camille, seeing that it was not in the 
nature of the man to defend another at the expense 
of his own safety and popularity. Since the fool 
would not be saved, let him go his own way, even if it 
led him to destruction. It was in vain that Danton 
tried to explain matters, to make peace between the 
two angry men. 

" Do not be afraid, Camille," he said, " at the 
rather severe lesson which Robespierre, out of his 
strong feeling of friendship, has just given you." 

Even if Danton had been able to appease Camille, 
he could not soothe Robespierre. The latter answered 
Camille's daring challenge with a bitter vindictiveness 
which should have warned the young man that he 
had indeed gone too far. 

" So be it," replied Robespierre. " We will answer, 
then, instead of burning, since Camille still defends 
his writings. If he wishes it, let him be covered with 


ignominy ; let the Society restrain its indignation no 
longer, since he is obstinate in maintaining his dia- 
tribes and his dangerous principles. I was evidently 
mistaken in believing that he was merely misled ; if 
he had been in good faith, if he had merely written 
in the simplicity of his heart, he would not have dared 
to uphold works which are proscribed by patriots 
and welcomed by counter - revolutionaries. His 
courage is only borrowed ; it betrays someone con- 
cealed, who has dictated what he has written in his 
journal ; it betrays that Desmoulins is the organ of a 
rascally faction which has borrowed his pen to spread 
its poison with all the more audacity and sureness. 
Let Camille be judged out of his own mouth ; let his 
numbers be read to the Society immediately." 

And then, speaking to Camille directly, with 
venomous irritation, Robespierre added : — 

" Learn, that if thou hadst not been Camille, we 
should not have had so much indulgence for thee. The 
manner in which thou seekest to justify thyself proves 
to me that thou hast bad intentions." 

Too late Camille saw the mistake he had made in 
browbeating Robespierre. He tried to obtain a 
hearing, that he might speak in his own defence, but 
the Society refused to listen to him. They at once 
proceeded to hear the debatable numbers of the 
" Vieux Cordelier." 

At this sitting a secretary read aloud the daring 
fourth number, and the ceremony was continued next 
day. On this occasion the famous No. 3 was read by 
Momoro, once Camille's overprudent printer of the 
" France Libre," now the most violent of ultra- 

At the end of the session Robespierre spoke again, 
and incidentally showed his own hand very plainly. 
Camille, he said again, with contemptuous patronage, 
Camille was a strange mixture of truth and falsehood, 
of cleverness and self-deception. Whether the Jacobins 


retained or expelled him mattered very little ; he was 
only an individual. The interests of the nation, 
Robespierre added, were menaced by two parties, the 
counter-revolutionaries and the ultra-revolutionaries — 
" Both Camille and Hebert are equally wrong in my 

The result of all this discussion appeared, at least 
for the moment, to be fairly satisfactory as far as 
Camille was concerned. He was not expelled from 
the Jacobins ; he was even tacitly permitted to retain 
his membership, although it appears that he rarely 
went to the Club again after this date, but the 
Cordeliers passed an ominous resolution on hearing 
of the apparent moderation of the sister Club. 

They decreed that : " Camille, already excluded 
from their ranks, had also lost their confidence, 
although formerly he had rendered great services to 
the Revolution." 

There was no doubt that the Moderates were dis- 
credited and distrusted, at least by those in power. 
As for the others, who had welcomed Camille's appeal 
for clemency so enthusiastically, they could do nothing 
to direct the course of events ; nobody, as yet, dared 
to oppose the Great Committee, and the Committee 
was resolved upon the downfall of the Dantonists. 

At last Camille fully realised his own danger and the 
inevitable end of his course of action. Robespierre's 
attitude must needs have opened his eyes. Yet, on 
the whole, it is plain that he did not regret what he 
had done. There is a story told by Jules Claretie and 
repeated in a slightly different form by M. Lenotre, 
which reveals clearly enough the attitude of mind of 
both Camille and his wife. 

Brune, the future marshal of the Empire and their 
devoted friend, was breakfasting with the pair one 
morning. The guest was depressed and full of 
mournful forebodings, and he felt impelled to warn 
Camille of the grave danger which he ran by con- 


tinuing to publish the " Vieux Cordelier." But 
Camille and Lucile refused to be intimidated, and the 
young wife said, with serious confidence, as she poured 
out the chocolate for their friend : — 

" Let him alone, Brune. Let him fulfil his mission. 
He must save his country." 

And Camille answered more lightly, playing with 
his little boy as he spoke : — 

" Pooh ! What matter ? Edamus et bibamus, eras 
enim moriemur ! " 

It was not always that Camille could laugh thus at 
the danger which threatened him and those whom he 
loved. There is a passage in the works of a contempo- 
rary writer which shows us what a dark cloud of 
depression had habitually settled now upon the spirits 
of the highly strung, sensitive journalist. 

One Miot de Melito, a brilliant man of affairs, who 
was later to take a prominent part in the politics of 
the Napoleonic era, was at this time attached to the 
Ministry of War at Paris. The young diplomatist 
tells us that he dined frequently at the house of 
Deforgues, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and that 
he often met Camille at these gatherings. The whole 
passage gives such a vivid impression of the journalist's 
bodily and mental attitude at this time that it is best 
to reproduce it at length. 

" Camille Desmoulins," Miot de Melito writes, " was also 
amongst the number of those who dined pretty frequently at 
Deforgues'. His personal appearance was commonplace, he 
had no external advantages, nor did his conversation belie the 
grudging hand with which nature had endowed him. Gloomy 
and silent, his countenance wore an expression of profound 
melancholy, and it was difficult to recognise the orator of the 
early days of the revolution of 1789, the orator who, standing 
on a chair at the Palais Royal, had by his stirring words pro- 
duced the great popular movement of that famous period. 

" At the time when I was in the habit of seeing him, he was 
horror-struck at the terrible scenes which passed before his 
eyes every day, and was endeavouring to arouse a spirit of 


humanity. In several numbers of a newspaper entitled the 
' Vieux Cordelier ' which was edited by him, he ventured 
(for it was then an act of the greatest courage) to advocate a 
return to clemency. Danton laughed at him for what he 
chose to call his weakness, but Camille Desmoulins, who 
was also excluded by each so-called patriotic society for having 
advocated these new doctrines, made no reply. 

" His gloom announced that he already foresaw the fate 
awaiting him, and the few words that he uttered were always 
enquiries or observations on the sentences of the Revolutionary 
Tribunal, on the kind of death inflicted on the condemned, 
and on the most dignified and decorous way of preparing for 
and enduring it." 

It is strange to note how this idea of dying with 
decorum had always obsessed Camille. At the very 
beginning of his literary career, in one of the early 
numbers of the " Revolutions de France et de Bra- 
bant," he dwells on the same subject when he is 
speaking of the ignominious death of the royalist 
Marquis de Favras. 

" The firmness with which he died was that of a gladiator, 
who, being mortally wounded, strives to fall with decency 
and dignity." 

The same thought haunted Camille once more, 
save that now it was his own death which he had in 
mind, that death which intuition and common sense 
alike must have warned him was drawing near. 

But by far the most living picture of the life of 
Camille and his wife at this time is to be found in a 
letter from Lucile herself to Freron. Camille's 
former sub-editor was on mission from the Convention 
at Toulon. He was employing against the Royalists 
in that unfortunate town all the most extreme 
" terrorist " methods, to put down the counter- 
revolutionary rising, and earning for himself a name and 
a reputation very different from that of the " Lapin " 
Freron of those old happy days at Bourg-la-Reine. 
Freron had written to the Desmoulins a short time 


before, at the beginning of the movement for clemency. 
It is in this letter that he recalls so charmingly their 
pleasant time of companionship in a passage which has 
already been quoted. Later, he shows himself very 
much at variance with Camille's new ideas. He 
advises him to bridle his imagination with regard to 
the Committee of Clemency. 

" It would be a triumph for the counter-revolutionaries 
Do not let his philanthropy blind him ; but wage war to the 
knife with all these patriot-adventurers." 

It is probably this same letter of Freron's to which 
Camille referred in No. 5 of the " Vieux Cordelier." 
In this number he defended his friend against the 
attacks of Hebert, who " calls Freron, as he calls me, a 
heretofore patriot, a muscadin, a Sardanapalus " 

There follows an impassioned apostrophe from 
Camille : — 

" Oh, my dear Freron, it is by means of gross artifices indeed 
that the patriots of August loth undermine the pillars of the 
ancient district of the Cordeliers ! You wrote ten days ago to 
my wife : ' I dream only of Toulon, where I shall either perish, 
or deliver it up to the Republic : I depart. The cannonade 
will begin as soon as I arrive ; we go to win either laurels or a 
willow branch ; prepare the one or the other for me.' Oh, 
my brave Freron, we have both of us wept for joy at hearing 
this morning of the victory of the Republic, and it is laurels 
that we shall bear before thee, instead of laying the willow 
upon thy ashes." 

Lucile answered Freron's letter some weeks later, 
upon the 24th Nivose. She is writing very soon after 
that terrible sitting of the Jacobins upon the i8th 
Nivose, when Robespierre finally repudiated the man 
who had been his tool, — and his friend. Probably poor 
Camille was too sick at heart to write himself. It is 
Lucile who defends her husband's actions and policy 
against the miscomprehension of their old comrade, 
writing with all the spirit and enthusiasm of a 


woman whose adored husband has been attacked and 

" Come back, Freron, come back quickly. You have no time 
to lose : bring with you all the old Cordeliers you can meet 
with ; we have the greatest need of them ; if it had pleased 
Heaven not to have ever dispersed them ! You cannot have an 
idea of what is doing here ! You are ignorant of everything ; 
you only see a feeble glimmering in the distance, which can 
give you but a faint idea of our situation. Indeed, I am not 
surprised that you reproach Camille for his Committee of 
Clemency. He cannot be judged from Toulon. You are 
happy where you are ; all has gone according to the wish of 
your heart ; but we, calumniated, persecuted by the ignorant, 
the intriguing, and even by patriots ! Robespierre, your head- 
piece, has denounced Camille to the Jacobins ; he has had 
Numbers 3 and 4 read and has demanded that they should be 
burnt ; he, who had read them in manuscript — can you 
conceive such a thing ? For two consecutive sittings he has 
thundered or rather shrieked against Camille, At the third 
sitting Camille's name was cancelled. Oddly enough, he 
made inconceivable efforts to have the cancelling reported ; 
it was reported ; but he saw that when he did not think or act 
according to the will of a certain number of individuals, he 
was not all powerful. Marius (Danton) is not listened to any 
more ; he is losing courage and vigour. D'Eglantine is 
arrested, and in the Luxembourg. So he was not a patriot ! 
He who had been one until now ! A patriot the less is a 
misfortune the more. 

" The monsters have dared to reproach Camille with having 
married a rich woman. Ah, let them never speak of me ; let 
them ignore my existence, let me live in the midst of a desert. 
I ask nothing from them, I will give up to them all I possess, 
provided I do not breathe the same air as they ; could I but 
forget them and all the evils they cause us. I see nothing but 
misfortune around me. I confess, I am too weak to bear such a 
sight. Life has become a heavy burden. I cannot even think, — 
thinking, once such a pure and sweet pleasure, alas, I am de- 
prived of it. My eyes fill with tears. I shut up this terrible 
sorrow in my heart ; I meet Camille with a serene look. I 
affect courage that he may keep up his. You do not seem to 
have read his five numbers. Yet you are a subscriber. 


" Yes, the wild thyme is gathered, quite ready. I plucked it 
amid many cares. I laugh no more ; I never act the cat ; I 
never touch my piano ; I dream no more : I am nothing but 
a machine now. I see no one, I never go out. It is a long time 
since I have seen the Roberts. They have got into difficulties 
through their own fault. They are trying to be forgotten. 
Farewell, Lapin, you will call me mad again. I am not, however, 
quite yet ; I still have enough reason left to suffer. 

" I cannot express to you my joy in learning that your dear 
sister had met with no accident ; I have been quite uneasy 
since I heard Toulon was taken. I wondered incessantly what 
would be their fate. Speak to them sometimes from me. 
Embrace them both from me. I beg them to do the same to 
you for me. 

" Do you hear ? My Loup cried out : ' Martin, my dear 
Martin, here, thou art come that I may embrace thee ; come 
back very soon.' 

" Come back, come back very soon, we are awaiting thee 

Nothing could possibly make us realise better what 
Lucile's life was at this time — a life which must also 
have been that of many another loving, anxious wife 
and mother. She knew, as well as Camille himself, the 
daily and hourly danger which her husband ran. It is 
plain from this letter that she suffered the added misery 
of knowing that her supposed, wholly imaginary wealth 
was one of the reproaches directed against Camille. 

There is infinite pathos and infinite tenderness in 
the words which describe how she " shuts up this 
terrible sorrow in her heart " — " meets Camille with a 
serene look " — " affects courage that he may keep up 
his." We can imagine that this was no easy task, this 
keeping up of Camille's courage, whilst her own heart 
ached so unbearably. For Camille, sensitive, volatile 
Camille, must have been difficult to soothe and calm 
now that his enemies were closing in on every side, 
whilst he saw his popularity slipping away from his 
grasp, leaving him to meet their attacks, defenceless. 
Poor Camille, whose one preoccupation now was how 


to die decently ; one can fancy that his thoughts and 
words must have wounded Lucile's loving heart. 

The sixth number of the " Vieux Cordelier," 
although dated Nivose loth, did not in reality appear 
until Pluviose 15th (February, 1794). 

At the forefront of this issue Camille printed two 
mottoes. One was a quotation from Valerius Maximus : 
" Peregrinatus est, animus ejus in nequitia non 
habitavit." For his other epigraph the journalist 
used an extract from CoUot d'Herbois' speech at the 
Jacobins, thus trying to turn the words of one of his 
deadliest enemies to good account, with a kind of 
despairing recklessness. 

" Camille Desmoulins," CoUot had said, " fait une 
debauche d'esprit avec les aristocrates ; mais il est 
toujours bon republicain et il lui est impossible d'etre 
autre chose." 

This sixth number, with its unfinished " Credo 
Politique du Vieux Cordelier," was rather more 
orthodox from the point of view of the " Mountain " 
than its predecessors. Nevertheless, with one of those 
errors of judgment for which we love him, Camille 
breaks off in this quite legitimate creed of his to relate 
the incident of the arrest of his father-in-law, who 
had been imprisoned on a charge of conspiracy in the 
Carmelite Convent, in a fashion which can scarcely be 
called respectful towards the laws and manners of the 

He again insists that the law of kindness would prove 
to be more powerful than that of terror as the order of 
the day, and he declares that he has from the first hoped 
and preached that the Republic would bring peace and 
happiness rather than misery and terror in its train. 
_ In a postscript to this number Camille attacks 
Hebert once more, almost for the last time, with most 
terrible and bitter raillery. 

" Miracle ! " he cries. " Grand conversion of Pere 
Duchesne ! ' I have already said a hundred times,' writes he 


in one of his last numbers, ' and I will say it always that one 
should imitate the sansculotte Jesus ! That one should obey 
the letter of the Gospel and live in peace with all men. . . .' 
" When Hebert speaks thus, I shall be the first to cry : ' The 
National Treasury cannot pay too highly for such numbers ! ' 
Continue, Hebert ; the divine sans-culotte whom you quote 
has also said : ' There is more joy in Heaven over one Pere 
Duchesne who repents, than over ninety-nine Vieux Cordeliers 
who need no repentance.' But you ought to remember to 
have read in the same book : ' Thou shalt not say to thy 
brother, Raca, that is to say, viedase. Thou shalt not lie.' " 

During the early spring of 1794 Robespierre con- 
tinued to attack the Hebertist faction relentlessly. 
The " ultras " did not fall without a struggle. Carrier, 
the butcher of Nantes, hero of " noyades " and of 
deeds unspeakable, thundered from the tribune of the 
Cordeliers, whilst Hebert, in the " Pere Duchesne " 
threatened and raved, with the fear of death before 
his eyes. 

It was all in vain. One day towards the end of 
March stern, implacable Saint-Just rose in the Conven- 
tion and denounced Hebert and his faction. In cold, 
pitiless phrases he reviewed their misdeeds, and 
secured their condemnation. On March 24th the 
" ultras," Hebert, Momoro, Clootz, Ronsin and the 
rest, went to their death. 

Camille had played no small part in bringing about 
the downfall of this party ; perhaps for that reason he 
hoped that he might still escape denunciation. Prob- 
ably, too, his close association with Danton gave him 
confidence, for Danton despised the Committee and 
all its works, and, up to the very end, when warned that 
they plotted his downfall, repeated that they " would 
not dare." 

Yet, in a measure, the great Tribune of the people 
had lost his power. His grip on public opinion had 
slackened ; that withdrawal to Arcis at a crisis in the 
historv of the Revolution was to cost him dear. The 


Terror had progressed without Danton, it had out- 
stripped him. He, the mover and creator of the 
insurrection of August loth, was now considered almost 
a " moderate." 

And Robespierre, he who had said : " Both Camille 
and Hebert are equally wrong in my eyes," also feared 
Danton. There was too much brutal, far-reaching 
humanity in this man to fit in with his narrow, well- 
regulated schemes for the well-being of France and of 
France's regenerator, Maximilian Robespierre. Danton 
would probably spread disorder through the inhuman 
Utopia of Robespierre and Saint-Just : it would be 
far better if he were removed. 

Camille had yet another source of confidence. He 
knew that he had fallen from the favour of those in 
power, he knew that most of his former friends had 
deserted him, but he did not believe that the people 
would allow him to be sacrificed. Camille had not, 
as yet, learnt that lesson which almost all the leaders 
of the Revolution had, sooner or later, to lay to heart — 
the lesson that no dependence could be placed in the 
mob. He knew that he had once been popular ; he 
did not comprehend that the rapid sequence of events 
had entirely blotted from the minds of the people of 
Paris the remembrance of his services, those services 
of which he had reminded his readers so eloquently 
in the fifth number of the " Vieux Cordelier." 

The spring came early to France that year of 1794. 
We have the evidence of many contemporaries to 
prove that it was long enough since such perfect 
weather had been known at that season. At the 
beginning of March, it was hot and almost summer- 
like. The woods all round Paris had broken into their 
young leaves ; the Seine danced and sparkled beneath 
a sky of unclouded blue. As the month drew on the 
lilacs in the gardens of the Luxembourg began to 
bloom before their time, scenting the air with their 
hot, clean fragrance. 


Perhaps during those anxious days Camille and 
Lucile sometimes walked together there, beneath the 
flowering trees. One would like to think so, and to 
believe that they forgot, for a moment, their present 
dangers and forebodings in recalling those past happy 
hours of their life, which these same gardens had 

It was here that Camille had first met the child who 
was to be his wife ; it was here also that, a few short 
weeks later, he was to see her for the last time on earth. 

Yet although the shadow of their approaching fate 
hung over these two who were all in all to each other, 
full knowledge was mercifully spared them. We may be 
very sure that even during these last months there were 
happy hours, spaces when all their sorrows were for- 
gotten as they listened to little Horace's baby prattle. 
Fortunately, a sudden and violent death is unrealisable 
to a man in the full enjoyment of his health and 
strength. In moments of despondency Camille may 
have honestly believed that he expected and was 
prepared for death, but the moments were probably 
far more frequent when he was confident that somehow 
or other he would yet escape. 

Meanwhile the journalist was engaged in writing 
the seventh number of the " Vieux Cordelier." After 
the first three issues the paper had not appeared with 
any pretence of regularity : in fact, it was never a 
journal in the same sense as the " Revolutions de 
France." This last number was belated indeed ; it 
never appeared in Camille's lifetime. 

Had it done so, it might only have made his con- 
demnation the more sure, for it was bold : bolder 
even than its predecessors. Indeed, according to 
Michelet, the allusions to Robespierre in this seventh 
number of the " Vieux Cordelier " actually did lead 
to the author's arrest. 

The pamphlet takes the form of an imaginary 
conversation between Camille himself and a typical 


" old Cordelier." When Desenne, the publisher, 
saw the proofs of this No. 7 he took fright and declared 
that he dared not print it. He was not so bold as 
Camille ; moreover he had none of the journalist's 
reasons for personal animosity. The attacks on 
Robespierre were too flagrant and too obvious ; it did 
not certainly require any very extraordinary degree of 
perspicacity to guess who was intended by such a 
passage as this : " Car jamais ces tyrans n'ont manque 
de juger pour faire perir, sous le pretexte de calomnies, 
quiconque leur deplaisait." 

In another place Camille writes still more openly, 
comparing Robespierre and Danton to Octavius and 
Antony, much to the disadvantage of the former. 

In spite of Desenne's protests, Camille insisted that 
the number should be published exactly as he had 
written it, without alterations. The proofs passed 
to and fro, and were doubtless read by many people. 
It is exceedingly probable that Robespierre heard of 
Camille's contemplated attack upon him, and deter- 
mined that he must be silenced, although Michelet 
would have us believe that it was with extreme 
reluctance that he consented to the arrest of the 

Camille's seventh number is, in many respects, a 
very noteworthy piece of work. Once again, and for 
the last time, he claims the liberty of the Press, 
although he allows that there may be danger to the 
State where each writer gives free vent to his own 
personal opinions — a strange sentiment this, coming 
from Camille ! 

He bitterly taunts the members of the Convention 
with cowardice : — 

" If a deputy feels himself obliged to declare his sentiments, 
good or bad, nothing is more pleasant for the Republican who 
follows these sittings than to observe with what ' ifs ' and ' buts,' 
' yeas ' and ' nays,' what concessions, circumlocutions and 
oratorical precautions he envelops his meaning, for fear the 


guillotine should find a way to the neck of it. . . . Not one of 
you dares give utterance on the morrow to the opinion you 
have agreed upon the day before. Each of you waits for the 
others. ... I, on this celebrated Mountain, have merely, 
seen mice deliberating, while no one dared to bell the cat." 

Further on, he is even more vehement. 

" I contend that we have never been so enslaved as since 
we have called ourselves Republicans, that we have never 
grovelled so abjectly before men in credit and in place as 
since we have spoken with them, hat on head." 

Camille concludes the number with another instal- 
ment of his political " Credo," in some respects braver 
and more generous than anything which he had yet 

" I believe that Liberty is humanity ; thus I believe that 
Liberty would not prevent the relations of prisoners from 
seeing their fathers, their husbands, or their sons ; I believe 
that Liberty would not condemn the mother of Barnave to 
knock in vain for eight hours at the door of the Conciergerie, 
in the hope of speaking to her son, and when this unhappy 
woman had accomplished a hundred leagues in spite of her 
great age, to oblige her, to see him yet once again, to wait for 
him upon the road to the scaffold. ... I believe that Liberty 
is magnanimous : she would not insult a condemned criminal 
at the foot of the guillotine, and after his execution, because 
death wipes out the crime." 

To those who contend that Camille was a mere paid 
politician, whose pen was at the service of the highest 
bidder, this number is surely a sufficient refutation. 
There is no retractation here, no drawing back from 
the position which he had taken up, although now he 
was left, unsupported, upon that solitary and dangerous 

It is plain, surely, that sorrow and the imminent 
shadow of death had worked a great miracle in 
Camille ; the faun had become a very human man. 
For long, he and Barnave, the great orator of the first 


Assembly, had been strenuously opposed in policy. 
Friends they could never have been ; their tempera- 
ments were too entirely dissimilar. Yet Camille 
wrote no words which haunt one's memory more 
than these few lines in which he speaks of Barnave and 
his widowed mother. 

On one of the last days of March, an old teacher of 
Camille's at the College Louis-le-Grand met the 
journalist in the Rue St. Honore, carrying a bundle of 
papers under his arm. 

" What have you there, Camille ? " he asked. 

" Only some numbers of my ' Vieux Cordelier,' " 
answered the young man. " Will you have one ? " 

" No, indeed ! It is too dangerous ; they burn 1 " 

" Coward ! " laughed Camille, and quoted once 
more that favourite line of his : " Edamus et bibamus, 
eras enim moriemur." 

" To-morrow we die " Camille did not guess 

how almost literally true his words were to prove. 


THE first direct move against the party of the 
" Indulgents " was made in the middle of 
March, when Herault de Sechelles was 
expelled from the Committee of Public 
Safety. A few days later he was arrested and im- 
prisoned, on various trumped-up charges of treasonable 

This arrest was an open threat to Danton, since 
Herault was his intimate friend. Yet when those 
around him implored him to escape, he heard them 
with seeming indifference. 

" There is nothing to be done," he said. " Resist ? 
No, enough blood has been shed ; I would rather die 
myself. I prefer to be guillotined rather than to 
guillotine." And, when they still urged flight : " Does 
a man carry his fatherland on the soles of his shoes ? " 

Arguments and entreaties were useless with one 
who would only answer : 

" I know that they wish to arrest me, but no — they 
will not dare ! " 

There is something grand in this confidence, ill- 
founded as it was. It is not surprising if it inspired 
Camille with the same feeling, accustomed as he was 
to rely upon the judgment of those whom he respected 
and trusted. 

During the last days of March sinister rumours 
spread. It was whispered that the arrest of the 
Dantonists was imminent, and the Members of the 
Committee maintained an obstinate silence when 
questioned. A fairly well authenticated story tells 



how someone dared to speak to Robespierre himself 
of his ancient friendship for Danton, asking him to 
intervene in his favour. Robespierre is said to have 
answered that he could do nothing, either for or 
against his colleague, that justice was there to defend 
innocence, that, as far as he himself was concerned, his 
entire life had been a continual sacrifice of his affec- 
tions to the fatherland : and that, if his friend were 
guilty, he would sacrifice him with regret, but still 
he would sacrifice him, like all the others, to the 

It is very probable that this was the light in which 
Robespierre viewed himself, and that he thus expressed 
his intentions. 

Six days after the execution of the Hebertists, upon 
March 29th (9th of Germinal), there was a sudden 
outbreak of counter-revolutionary feeling in Paris. 
The downfall of the " ultras " had led many to think 
that the Terror was at an end, and there was talk of a 
revolt against the extreme Republican party. 

That same evening Legendre rose at the Jacobins 
to protest against the widespread belief that such an 
anti-revolutionary project was to be attributed to his 
friends, " the indulgents." This well-meant but 
exceedingly ill-advised speech drew forth an open 
threat from CoUot d'Herbois. 

" Be calm ! " he cried. " Such plans will be dis- 
appointed. We have caused a thunderbolt to fall 
upon the infamous men who deceived the people, we 
have torn the mask from them, but they are not the 
only ones ! . . . We will tear away all possible masks. 
The ' indulgents ' need not imagine that we have 
fought for them, that it is for them that we have held 
here these glorious sessions ! Soon we shall know 
how to undeceive them." 

On the following day, March 30th, an extraordinary 
meeting was convoked of the two great Committees, 
sitting together, as was their practice on important occa- 


sions. The Committee of Legislation was also sum- 
moned, to give more authority still to the proceedings. 

At this meeting, Saint-Just was the principal speaker. 
He denounced the Dantonists with all the force and 
eloquence at his command, charging them with 
" moderatism " and "reaction" in much the same 
terms as Camille himself had used in the accusations 
which he brought against the Girondins. Finally, he 
demanded the arrest of the whole party of the " in- 

Saint-Just's personality and the knowledge that he 
was Robespierre's mouthpiece swayed the united 
Committees, and they jointly signed the warrant for 
the arrest of the Dantonists. Only a very few had the 
courage to withhold their names ; amongst them were 
Ruhl and Robert Lindet. At the close of the sitting, 
these two men sent Panis to warn Danton that the 
warrant was actually signed. 

The perturbed messenger found Danton at home, 
sitting by the fire in his study. It is from M. Robinet 
that we learn how the great Tribune passed this, his 
last evening of freedom. He sat silently by the hearth, 
grave and preoccupied, with the glow of the flames 
falling upon his rugged face. 

Maybe his thoughts had strayed to the days of his 
boyhood in Arcis, that pleasant, homely Arcis, where 
he had won back a little peace of mind but a few 
months before. It would perhaps have been well for 
Danton if he had not returned to his birthplace during 
those stormy autumn months of 1793 ; well for 
Danton if, having returned, he had remained there, 
far from the turmoil of the capital and the stress of 
party warfare. 

The errand of Panis was fruitless. Even now Danton 
would not fly. He was disturbed by the news, we read ; 
he paced with long strides up and down the room, 
muttering broken sentences to himself, and pausing now 
and then to embrace his nephew, but still he would not 


seek a place of safety. He was sick of revolution and 
bloodshed — sick of life, if it must be bought at such a 
cost. It was thus that Danton awaited his arrest. 

Meanwhile it was with a very heavy heart that 
Camille watched through the long hours of that March 
night. He had a more personal grief to sadden him 
than had Danton, something which, for a moment, 
outweighed those anxieties which had become custo- 
mary and part of his life. Only that morning he had 
received a letter from his father, telling him that the 
mother, whom he so tenderly loved, was dead. 
It is long since Camille had seen his parents ; in 
his letters he often speaks of a visit which he hopes 
to pay to them, but that visit, it seems, had never 
taken place. Yet the old tie of love uniting the parents 
and the son remained as strong as ever. 

It has sometimes been asserted that Camille was 
on bad terms with his father, and it is true that the 
impetuous son was often irritated by what he con- 
sidered, quite unjustly, to be coldness and lack of 
enthusiasm on the part of the elder man. In the days 
of his first great success Camille was apt to think that 
others, and especially the townsfolk of his birthplace, 
did not fully recognise his true worth and capabilities. 

Yet this letter which the young man received on the 
eve of his arrest will prove to any unprejudiced reader 
that the bond between the father and the son had not 
been weakened by these little disagreements and mis- 
understandings in the past. These are the words of 
M. Desmoulins : — 

" My dear son, I have lost the half of myself. Your mother 
is no more. I have always hoped for her recovery, wrhich has 
prevented me from telling you of her illness. She died to-day 
at noon. She is worthy of all our regrets ; she loved you 
tenderly. I embrace your wife, my dear daughter-in-law, very 
affectionately and sorrowfully, and little Horace. I will write 
more to-morrow. I am always your best friend, 

" Desmoulins." 


There was no sleep for Camille that night. Never 
the man to feel in moderation, or to take either sorrow 
or happiness calmly, he sat for hour after hour, over- 
whelmed with grief. We can fancy how Lucile laid 
aside her own heartache to soothe her husband's 
sorrow. Perhaps the remembrance of that very sorrow 
was a comfort to them both during the days which 
followed ; it must have drawn them to each other 
very closely on this, the last night together. 

At intervals during those restless, wakeful hours, 
after Lucile had at last gone to lie down in the adjoin- 
ing room, Camille corrected the proofs of the seventh 
and last number of the " Vieux Cordelier " which 
had been sent back from the printers that day. The 
occupation served to distract his mind, to some extent, 
from his sorrow ; the work was to be, as it were, his 
last will and testament. 

At about six o'clock in the morning there was an 
unwonted disturbance in the usually quiet street. 
There rose to Camille's ears the sound of the tramp of 
heavy feet, and, a moment later, the clang of arms 
grounded on the cobbles at a word of command. 

He flung open the window, and leaning out, looked 
down into the street. As he had expected, he saw 
that a patrol of soldiers was drawn up before his 
door. Camille was not unprepared for this ; he knew 
only too well for what purpose they had come, and he 
went unhesitatingly into the adjoining room, where his 
wife lay asleep, with their little boy in his cradle at 
her side. 

For a moment the young man must have hesitated 
as he looked down upon the peaceful face of the 
sleeping girl. But this news of his must be told and 
at once ; there was no time to think of how it might 
be broken gently. 

" They have come to arrest me," he said quietly, and 
Lucile started up at the words, scarcely awake, hardly 
understanding. ... 


The scene which followed can be better imagined 
than described. It was a scene which took place again 
and again in those days — days which witnessed so often 
the tearing apart of wives and husbands, of parents 
and children. Yet each fresh actor in that tragedy 
must have felt that he or she alone suffered its full 
bitterness, and surely this was the thought of Camille 
and Lucile as they clung together on that spring 

Their married life had been so completely happy, 
in spite of, nay, even because of, the trials and sorrows 
which surrounded them. Was it to end like this, cut 
short in a moment of time ? 

Yet, mercifully, there can have been but little space 
for tears. Lucile was obliged to think of other things, 
to collect such clothes as Camille would need in 
prison, where even the barest necessaries were not 
provided. It must all be done, even though their 
hearts were breaking, and we may be sure that Lucile 
forgot nothing which could add to the comfort of the 
man she loved. Camille hastily selected a couple of 
books and thrust them into the valise. Both were in 
English, and curiously indicative of his mood. They 
were Hervey's " Meditations among the Tombs " and 
Young's " Night Thoughts." 

Then, for a moment, Camille knelt beside the cradle 
of the sleeping child, that little Horace, who was never 
really to know his young father. He kissed the baby 
very gently, his unnatural calmness almost giving way 
at the touch of the soft cheek, and turned to Lucile 
for one last embrace . . . the very last. 

Camille left his wife, now mercifully scarcely 
conscious, and descended the stairs. He opened the 
door himself, and his captors surrounded him and 
bound his arms roughly, as though he had been a 
common malefactor. Then, while the startled, 
distressed neighbours stared from their windows and 
doorways, they led him away. 


It was only a short distance from Camille's home to 
his prison. He was taken to the Luxembourg, once a 
palace, now a gaol. Here it is probable that he met 
Danton in the common ante-chamber before they were 
committed to separate cells. We know, at least, that 
Danton saw and spoke with Lacroix and Philippeaux, 
but there is no record of any conversation with 

The journalist was imprisoned in a cell which over- 
looked the gardens of the Luxembourg ; we can 
imagine that it was a sad joy to him to be able to see 
those lawns and terraces once more from the window 
of his prison. 

Two days elapsed between the arrest of the Danton- 
ists and their trial. The best account which we can 
possibly obtain of Camille's thoughts and actions 
during those forty-eight hours is to be found in the 
two letters which he wrote to Lucile from the 
Luxembourg. One cannot do better than give these 
letters almost in their entirety. They show Camille 
in his best and tenderest aspect ; they are amongst the 
most pathetic love-letters in literature or history ; 
it would be fair neither to the man nor to his genius 
to omit or to mutilate them. 

The first was written on the day of his arrest. It is 
simply dated from the prison of the Luxembourg. 

" My Lucile, my Vesta, my angel," Camille begins. 
*' Destiny leads my eyes from my prison over that garden where 
I passed eight years in following you. A glimpse of the 
Luxembourg recalls to me a crowd of memories of my love. 
I am alone, but never deserted by thought, by imagination, 
almost by the sense of the bodily presence of you, of your 
mother, of my little Horace. 

" I have only written this first letter to demand some neces- 
sary things. But I am going to pass all my time in prison in 
writing to you ; because I have no need to take up my pen for 
my defence. My justification is complete in my eight Republi- 
can volumes. They are a good pillow, upon which my con- 
science reposes, awaiting the tribunal and posterity. 


" Oh, my good Lolotte, speak of other things ! I throw 
myself upon my knees, I extend my arms to embrace you, I 
find no more my poor Loulou. . . . 

" Send me a water-glass, that one on which there is a ' C ' 
and a ' D ' ; our two names. Send me a pair of sheets, and a 
book in duodecimo which I bought a few days ago at Charpen- 
tier's, and in which there are blank pages, made expressly for 
notes. This book treats of the immortality of the soul. I 
have need to persuade myself that there is a God, more just 
than men, and that I shall not fail to see thee again. Do not 
be too much affected by my ideas, dearest, I do not yet despair 
of men and of my liberation ; yes, my well-beloved, we shall 
be able to meet yet once more in the garden of the Luxem- 
bourg ! But send me that book. Farewell, Lucile ! Fare- 
well, Horace ! I cannot embrace you, but, through the tears 
which I shed, it seems to me that I hold you still against my 

On the following day Camille wrote again to Lucile, 
for the last time : — 

" Kind slumber suspended my woes. One is free when one 
sleeps : one has no more the sense of captivity : heaven has 
had pity upon me. It was only for a moment that I saw you 
in a dream, I embraced you turn by turn, thou and Horace, 
but our little one had lost an eye through some affection 
which had settled there, and grief at this accident awoke me. 
I found myself in my cell ; it was just beginning to grow light. 
Not being able to see thee any more and to hear thy replies, 
because thou and thy mother spoke to me, I rose, that I might 
at least speak to thee and write to thee. But, on opening my 
windows, the thought of my loneliness, the frightful barriers, 
the bolts which separate me from thee, have vanquished all 
my firmness of soul. I burst into tears, or rather I sobbed, 
crying in my tomb : ' Lucile, Lucile, where art thou ? ' 

" Yesterday, in the evening, I had a similar moment, and my 
heart was equally moved when I perceived thy mother in the 
gardens. An involuntary movement threw me on my knees 
against the barriers ; I joined my hands as though imploring 
her pity, she, who mourned, I am certain, upon thy breast. 
I saw her sorrow yesterday by her handkerchief and by her 
veil, which she lowered, not being able to bear this spectacle. 


When you both come, let her seat herself a little nearer with 
thee, that I may see you better. It seems to me that there is 
no danger. My spy-glass is not very good. 

" But, above all, I implore thee send me the portrait ; let 
thy painter have compassion on me, who only suffer for having 
had too much compassion for others ; let him give thee two 
sittings a day. In the horror of my prison, the day when I 
receive thy portrait will be a festival, a day of merry-making 
and of joy. In the meanwhile, send me a lock of hair, that I 
may wear it against my heart. My dear Lucile ! Behold me 
returned to the time of my first love for thee, when the mere 
fact that anyone came from thee was enough to interest me 
in him. To-day when the citizen who bore thee my letter had 
returned : ' Well, you have seen her ? ' I asked, as I used to 
say to the Abbe Laudreville, and I caught myself looking at 
him as though some sign of thee hngered about his clothes, 
upon his person. He has a charitable soul, since he has given 
thee my letter without erasures. I shall see him when he 
comes, twice a day, in the morning and the evening. This 
messenger of my sorrows becomes as dear to me as would 
formerly have been that of my pleasures. 

" I have discovered a crack in the wall of my apartment ; 
I applied my ear to it ; I heard a sigh : I ventured to whisper 
a few words ; I was answered by the voice of a sick man who 
suffered. He asked my name ; I told it to him. ' Oh, my 
God ! ' he cried at that name, falling back upon his bed, from 
which he had raised himself, and I recognised distinctly the 
voice of Fabre d'Eglantine. ' Yes, I am Fabre,' he said to me. 
' But thou here ! The counter-revolution is then accom- 
plished ? ' 

" We did not dare, however, to speak together for fear that 
hatred would grudge us this feeble consolation, and that, if 
anyone should chance to overhear us, we should be separated 
and more strictly confined ; because he has a chamber with a 
fireplace, and mine would be sufiiciently comfortable if a cell 
could ever be called so. 

" But, dearest, thou canst not imagine what it is to be in 
solitary confinement, without knowing for what reason, 
without having been interrogated, without receiving a single 
newspaper ! It is to live and to be dead at one and the same 
time ; it is only to exist to feel that one is in a tomb. It is 
said that innocence is calm, courageous. Ah, my dear Lucile, 


my well-beloved ! Often then my innocence is feeble, as that 
of a father, that of a son, that of a husband ! 

" If it was Pitt or Cobourg who treated me so severely ; 
but my colleagues ! — but Robespierre, who has signed the 
order for my imprisonment — but the Republic, after all that 
I have done for her ! This is the reward which I receive for 
so many virtues and sacrifices for her sake ! 

" When I entered here I saw Herault-Sechelles, Simon, 
Ferroux, Chaumette, Antonelle ; they are less unhappy ; 
not one of them is in solitary confinement. 

" It is I who have called down upon myself for the past 
five years so many hatreds and perils for the sake of the Re- 
public, I, who have preserved my poverty in the midst of the 
Revolution, I, who have only to ask pardon from thou alone 
in all the world, my dear Lolotte, and to whom thou hast 
accorded it, because thou knowest that my heart, in spite of 
all its faults, is not unworthy of thee ; it is I, whom the men 
who called themselves my friends, who called themselves 
Republicans, throw into a cell, alone, as though I were a con- 
spirator. Socrates drank hemlock ; but at least he saw in his 
prison his friends and his wife. How much harder it is to be 
separated from thee ! The greatest criminal would be too 
severely punished if he were torn from a Lucile otherwise than 
by death, which, at least, only makes one feel for a moment 
the bitterness of such a separation ; but a guilty man would 
not have been thy husband and thou hast only loved me 
because I existed for nothing save the happiness of my fellow- 

" They call for me. . . . 

" At this moment the commissaries of the Government came 
to interrogate me. Only this one question was put to me : 
If I had conspired against the Republic. What mockery, and 
how can they insult thus the most pure Republicanism ? I 
see the fate which awaits me. Adieu. 

" Thou seest in me an example of the barbarity and of the 
ingratitude of men. My last moments shall not dishonour 
thee. Thou seest that my fears were well-founded, that my 
presentiments were always true. I have married a wife 
celestial by her virtues ; I have been a good husband, a good 
son ; I would have been also a good father. I carry with me 
the esteem and the regrets of all true republicans, of all lovers 
of virtue and of liberty. I die at thirty- four years of age, but 


it is a miracle that I have passed scatheless, during the last 
five years, over so many of the precipices of the Revolution, 
without falling, and that I still live ; I rest my head calmly 
upon the pillow of my writings — too numerous — but which 
all breathe the same love of mankind, the same desire to render 
my fellow-countrymen happy and free, and which the axe of 
tyrants cannot touch. I see plainly that power intoxicates all 
men and that all say, like Dionysius of Syracuse : ' Tyranny is 
a fine epitaph.' 

" But console thyself, desolate widow. The epitaph of thy 
poor Camille is more glorious : it is that of Brutus and of 
Cato, the tyrannicides. 

" Oh, my dear Lucile, I was born to make verses, to defend 
the unhappy, to render thee happy, to compose with thy 
mother and thy father and a few more after our own heart, an 
Otaheite. I have dreamed of a Republic which all the world 
would have adored. I could not have believed that men were 
so fierce and so unjust. How could I think that some jests in 
my writings against the colleagues who provoked me would 
efface the remembrances of my services ? I cannot hide from 
myself that I die the victim of those jests and of my friend- 
ship for Danton. I thank my assassins that they let me die 
with him and Philippeaux ; and since my colleagues have been 
so cowardly as to abandon us and to lend ear to calumnies 
which I do not know, but which I am advised are of the 
gravest nature, I can say that we die the victims of our courage 
in denouncing two traitors and of our love for truth. We 
can bear with us this knowledge, that we perish the last of the 

" Pardon me, my dearest, my true life, that I lost when we 
were separated, if I occupy myself with my memories. I 
ought rather to strive to make you forget. My Lucile, my 
good Loulou ! Live for Horace, speak to him of me. Thovi 
wilt say to him what he cannot yet understand, that I would 
have loved him well. In spite of my sacrifice, I beheve that 
there is a God. My blood will perhaps wash out my faults, 
which are the common weakness of humanity, and God will 
recompense me for the good which I have tried to do, for my 
virtues, my love of Liberty, I shall see thee again some day, 
oh, Lucile ! Is death so great a misfortune since it delivers 
me, easily affected as I am, from the sight of so many crimes ? 

" Farewell, my life, my soul, my earthly divinity. I leave 


thee to the care of good friends — all those amongst men who 
are virtuous and right- feeling, I perceive the shores of my 
life receding before me. I see still Lucile. I see thee, my well- 
beloved, my Lucile ! My bound hands embrace thee, and my 
severed head rests still upon thee its dying eyes." 

Lucile never received these last words of her hus- 
band. The Dantonists were removed to the Concier- 
gerie during the night of April 1st (12th Germinal), 
and, on his arrival there, Camille gave the letter to 
one Citizen Grosse-Beaurepaire, a prisoner like himself, 
begging him, if possible, to deliver it. But this errand 
could never be performed ; the message passed from 
hand to hand, and remains to us now, after more than 
a century, as Camille's best and most worthy testament, 
a letter so brave in its pathos that it makes one's heart 
ache to think that it never reached its destination, 
never carried its message to Lucile's loving soul. 

The greater part of those two days in prison must 
have been spent by Camille in writing. The nervous, 
highly-strung man was on the verge of a breakdown ; 
he was ill in mind and body alike, unable to sleep, 
unable to eat, tempted only by the soup which Lucile 
made with her own hands and sent to the Luxembourg. 
It was now that his profession came to his aid ; the 
journalist's overwrought brain could find some relief, 
some relaxation in setting down on paper the thoughts 
which pressed upon him. 

Besides the letters to Lucile, Camille wrote part of 
what was intended to be the eighth number of the 
" Vieux Cordelier." These few somewhat disjointed 
passages remained unpublished, for obvious reasons, 
until 1834, when they were included by M. Matton 
in his edition of Camille's works. They treat almost 
entirely of the danger of allowing one or more in- 
dividuals to retain the dictatorship in the State for an 
indefinite period, and there is no ambiguity, nor any 
doubt as to whom Camille indicated in such words 
as those which follow. They show plainly enough that 


arrest and imprisonment had not induced the journalist 
to change his opinions. 

" Freemen ! You desire to be free — be so then, in very 
truth : do not content yourselves with the liberty of the 
moment, seek also to secure your future enfranchisement. 
You have cast forth your Tarquin, you have done more ; 
his execution has affrighted all kings, those pretended masters 
of the w^orld, who are only its tyrants and despoilers. But why 
does the power of Brutus last more than a year ? . . . Why 
is it to individuals that one owes one's preservation, instead 
of to the Repubhc ? " 

According to Jules Claretie, Camille wrote to 
Robespierre from the Luxembourg, but the historian 
gives no proof of this assertion, and it would seem to 
be contradicted by the testimony of Charlotte Robes- 
pierre, as contained in her " Memoirs " : — 

" My brother loved Camille Desmoulins dearly," she says, 
" they having studied together : and when he learned of his 
arrest and incarceration at the Luxembourg, he went to the 
prison that he might beg Camille to return to the true Revolu- 
tionary principles which he had abandoned for an alliance 
with the Royalists. Camille would not see him ; and my 
brother, who would probably have assumed his defence, and 
perhaps saved him, if he could have persuaded him to abjure 
his political heresies, abandoned him to the terrible justice 
of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Now Danton and Camille 
were so intimately connected that he could not have saved the 
one without the other ; if, therefore, Camille had not repulsed 
him, when he held out his hand to him, Camille and Danton 
would not have perished. . . . Desmoulins published his 
' Vieux Cordelier,' in which he arraigned all the Revolutionists 
and, in consequence, the Revolution. This was worse than a 
great imprudence on his part — it was a crime. My elder 
brother said sorrowfully to me on this subject, ' Camille is 
ruining himself ' ; he took up his defence several times ; several 
times also he tried to reclaim him, and spoke to him as a 
brother, but in vain. . . . Despite his immense popularity 
and extraordinary influence his words (in defence of Camille) 
were received with murmurs. Then he saw that by trying to 
save Camille he was working his own ruin." 


It is in that last sentence that Charlotte Robespierre 
gives the key to all her brother's conduct, as we judge 
it. The remainder of this piece of special pleading is 
full of obvious misstatements. It is idle to assert, for 
instance, that Robespierre was not a party to the 
publication of the " Vieux Cordelier." We have too 
many irrefutable witnesses to prove that the paper was 
indeed originally his own project, and that he passed 
the proofs of, at least, the first three numbers. 

It is perhaps natural that his sister should believe 
that, had he met with encouragement, Maximilian 
would have taken up the defence of Camille and 
Danton, but the statement does not, unfortunately, 
carry conviction. Neither does it seem probable that 
Robespierre, as Charlotte infers, heard with consterna- 
tion that Camille was imprisoned, since he himself had 
signed the warrant for the arrest of the journalist 
and his colleagues. 

We know that Lucile tried to see her husband's one- 
time friend and plead with him for Camille's life. 
That interview she could not obtain, but the letter 
which she wrote to Robespierre is still extant — a letter 
almost incoherent, but with terrible truth in every 
line of it. 

" That hand which so often pressed yours, forsook the pen 
before its time, because it could no longer hold it to trace your 
praises. And you have sent him to death ! You have then 
understood his silence ! " 

The preliminary interrogations of the prisoners took 
place at the Luxembourg on the morning of the I2th 
Germinal (April 2nd), Camille being the first to be 
questioned. On this occasion, as we have read in his 
letter to Lucile, besides a few formal questions as to 
his name, address and profession, the journalist was 
asked only whether he " had conspired against the 
French nation by wishing to restore the Monarchy, 
by destroying the National Representation and the 


Republican Government ? " At this interrogation the 
advocate, Chauveau de Lagarde, was nominated as 
Camille's counsel. 

In the meantime public opinion had been stunned by 
the arrest of the Dantonists ; very few of their former 
friends had been daring enough to plead for them in 
public. At the meeting of the Convention on the 
nth Germinal one man only rose to speak in their 
favour. This was Legendre, the eloquent, stentorian- 
voiced master-butcher, whom Camille had, on one 
occasion, compared to Demosthenes. 

" Citizens," he cried, " four members of this 
assembly have been arrested to-day : I know that 
Danton is one of them ; I am ignorant of the names of 
the others ; but, whoever they may be, I demand that 
they be heard at this bar. Citizens, I declare that I 
believe Danton to be as innocent as I am myself ! " 

But brave as were Legendre's words, his courage was 
not of the lasting order. On being coldly reproved by 
Robespierre, he hesitated, stammered, and finally 
apologised for what he had said on his first generous 
impulse. For Robespierre and his party did not intend 
for one instant that Danton should be given the 
opportunity to defend himself before the Convention, 
which he had so often swayed by his words. It was 
the Revolutionary Tribunal and no other which was 
to judge and condemn the " Indulgents." 

After Robespierre had scared Legendre into silence, 
after he had spoken at length upon the cultivation 
of the Republican virtues, upon the necessity that 
the few should suffer for the good of the many, 
Saint-Just rose to speak. He read a Report relating 
to the crimes and treasons of the Dantonists with that 
austere conviction which so often concealed the 
falseness of his premises. 

" The Republic is the people and not the renown 
of a few men ! " he declared, and went on to denounce 
each one of the accused by name. It is unnecessary to 


examine this speech at length ; it was an astounding 
tissue of lies and misrepresentations, woven with 
subtle skill upon a foundation of half-truths. Philip- 
peaux, Lacroix, Herault — Saint-Just attacked each in 
turn. Camille he dismissed contemptuously as " a 
dupe first, and afterwards an accomplice — wanting in 
character " — yet he proceeded to calumniate him 
most grossly. It was Danton, finally, whom the orator 
attacked with the most bitter venom, accusing him of 
all imaginable crimes, public and private. 

Yet Saint-Just, by the sheer force of personality, 
carried the cowed Assembly with him. At the close 
of the Report, an almost unanimous decree of 
accusation was passed against the Dantonists. 

On the following day, April ist (i2th Germinal), 
this accusation was read to the prisoners, previous 
to their removal to the Conciergerie. 

The accused men were brought together for the first 
time on this occasion. Fabre d'Eglantine was sick 
almost to death, Chabot in no better case, for he had 
taken poison in his cell, Philippeaux, calm and com- 
posed as ever, whilst Herault, his personal charm 
unchanged to the last, embraced and thanked a faithful 
servant, who was not permitted to accompany him 
to the Conciergerie. 

Danton heard the iniquitous report with unmoved 
contempt, but Camille was furious at the calumnies 
brought against him by Saint-Just. He raged and 
stormed until rebuked by Danton, after which he 
managed to compose himself. We are told that he 
murmured, with quivering lips : " I go then to the 
scaffold, because I have shed tears at the fate of so 
many unhappy people. My only regret, in dying, is 
that I have not been able to serve them better." 

The prisoners were transferred to the Conciergerie, 
that ante-chamber to the Revolutionary Tribunal, 
where they were confined together in the same cell 
which the Girondins had occupied six months before. 


It was on their arrival here that Danton used the words 
which have since become famous. 

" It was on such a day that I instituted the Revolu- 
tionary Tribunal. I ask pardon for it from God and 
man ! My aim was to prevent fresh September 
massacres, not to establish a scourge for humanity." 
Then, speaking of Robespierre and his colleagues, he 
said bitterly : " These Cains know nothing of govern- 
ment. I leave everything in a frightful muddle." 
And he added : " It were better to be a poor fisherman 
than to rule men." 

During this short time in the Conciergerie, Camille 
composed the " Notes upon the Report of Saint-Just," 
which were to be his last written words. There is 
bitter anger in this defence, yet, beneath it all, we can 
plainly read his despair. 

" If I could only print in my turn," he begins. ..." If 
they would leave me only two days in which to compose 
No. 7, how I would confound M. le Chevalier Saint- 
Just ! . . . But Saint-Just writes at his leisure, in his bath, in 
his dressing-room ; he meditates on my assassination for 
fifteen days ; and I, I have nowhere even to place my writing- 
case ; I have only a few hours left in which to defend my life. 
. . . But there is a Providence, a Providence for Patriots, and 
already I can die contented : the Republic is saved. ... It is 
proved by many decisive facts that those who accuse us are 
themselves the conspirators. 

" I come to that which concerns me personally in this 
Report. There has been no such atrocious example of calumny 
as this piece of work within the memory of man. And in the 
first place there is no one in the Convention who does not 
know that M. the heretofore Chevalier Saint-Just has sworn 
implacable hatred against me, because of a light pleasantry 
which I permitted myself five months ago in one of my num- 
bers. ... I put Saint- Just into a jesting newspaper paragraph, 
and, in return, he puts me into a murderous report, where, 
with regard to me, there is not one word of truth." 

In this, and all the rest of Camille's defence, eloquent 
and impassioned as it is, we feel that the writer did not 


hope for acquittal, that he knew himself and his 
colleagues to be already judged and condemned, 
since they had fallen into the hands of these, their 

Yet their condemnation was to be no easy task. 
Fouquier-Tinville was busy preparing the case against 
the Dantonists, and perhaps it is scarcely fair to blame 
the astute Public Prosecutor for the futility of much 
of his evidence. The work was almost beyond his 
power. It was no light matter to be called upon to 
bring forward irrefragable proofs that Danton, Camille 
Desmoulins, Herault, Westermann — the heroes of the 
Bastille and of August loth — were Royalists, con- 
spirators and traitors to the Republic. 


THE Dantonists were brought before the 
Revolutionary Tribunal, in the Salle de 
Liberte of the Palais de Justice, on April 
2nd (13th Germinal), at eleven o'clock in 
the morning. The accused were sixteen in number, 
including the Alsatian, General Westermann, who had 
only been arrested that same day. 

There was distinct method in the apparently pro- 
miscuous way in which the prisoners were herded 
together. Firstly, there was the party of the " In- 
dulgents," Danton, Camille, Philippeaux, Herault, 
Lacroix and Westermann, and, included in the same 
indictment with them, were a number of men accused 
of bribery, forgery and other criminal offences against 
the Government. These were Fabre d'Eglantine, 
Delaunay, Chabot, the two Freys, Bazire, Despagnac, 
Lhuillier, Guzman and Diederichsen. 

There is no doubt that this measure, by which at 
least three distinct groups of persons, having absolutely 
no connection with each other, were committed for 
trial together, was adopted deliberately by the 
Revolutionary Tribunal, acting on the authority of the 
Committees of Government. Here is the affirmation 
of Nicolas-Joseph Paris (nicknamed Fabricius), regis- 
trar to the Tribunal, given in his evidence at the trial 
of Fouquier-Tinville. 

" This refinement of perfidy," he says, " was often made use 
of by the Committees and oftener by Fouquier, confounding 
men of the highest probity, the most intrepid defenders of 
our liberty, with mean scoundrels and declared enemies of the 



Herman was the President of the Tribunal, of which 
the other members were Masson-Denizot, Foucault 
and Bra vet. Fouquier-Tinville held, of course, the 
position of Public Prosecutor, and his deputy was 
Fleuriot-Lescot. The jurors were most carefully 
selected by Fouquier himself. Paris tells us that the 
Public Prosecutor asked for the jury-list and, when it 
was brought to him, after making a cross beside several 
names, he marked another with the letter " F." On 
Paris enquiring what this meant, Fouquier answered : 
" It signifies ' faible.' He is fond of reasoning, and 
we don't want people who reason, we want this 
business done with." Then, staring at the registrar 
fixedly, the Public Prosecutor added : " Moreover, 
it is what the Committee of Public Safety wills." 

These well-chosen jurymen were Trinchard, Leroy 
(nicknamed Dix-Aout), Lumiere, Souberbielle, Des- 
boisseaux and Renaudin. The last-named was chal- 
lenged by Camille at the opening of the trial, and 
apparently on good grounds, but the Tribunal dis- 
regarded his appeal. 

In a volume entitled " Anecdotes inedites de la fin 
du dix-huitieme siecle," there is a curious story relating 
to one of the jurors at the trial of the Dantonists, 
whose name is not given. The author of the book tells 
us that this juryman was an intimate friend of 
Camille's, and that, whilst he was in the court, the 
journalist never took his eyes from his face ; he seemed 
to say : " Would you dare condemn me ? " 

Against his heart and his conscience the juror voted 
for the death of Camille and his colleagues, but, not 
long after, he was overcome by remorse at what he had 
done. The health of the unfortunate man com- 
pletely broke down : he brooded incessantly over the 
terrible result of his action, and he is reported to have 
said despairingly to a friend, who enquired of him the 
reason of his misery : " I have assassinated my friend, 
and I cannot live ; I am torn by remorse. Camille is 


perpetually before my eyes ; even now, while I am 
speaking to you, he is there — I see him, I hear him 
... he reproaches me with my barbarity, and yet I 
live ! " 

Our best account of the process of the Dantonists 
is contained in the vivid, hasty notes of Topino- 
Lebrun, the artist. He had been nominated on the 
jury, but was not called upon to serve. He remained 
in the court, however, and wrote down his impressions 
of the proceedings as they passed. 

One by one the prisoners made answer to Herman's 
formal interrogations, each according to his nature. 

Danton's reply thunders down to us, typical alike 
of the man and the epoch. 

" My name is Georges-Jacques Danton, formerly a 
lawyer, afterwards a Revolutionist and representative 
of the people. My dwelling will soon be in nothing- 
ness, after that, in the Pantheon of history." 

Camille's answer is even better known ; we have 
discussed it more fully in an earlier chapter. 

" I am thirty-three, the age of the sansculotte 
Jesus, when he died ; a critical age for every patriot." 

Herault replied with the easy lightness which he 
preserved throughout : " I am called Marie-Jean — 
hardly a striking name, even among the Saints. I sat 
in this hall and was detested by Parliamenteers." 

Westermann, after protesting against this arraign- 
ment, since he did not even know what was his indict- 
ment, made answer in a soldierly fashion, worthy of 
his high military reputation. 

" I am from Strasburg, a soldier from my infancy. 
I shall demand to be shown naked to the people that 
they may see me. I have seven wounds, all in front : I 
have received only one behind — my act of accusation." 

Danton appealed in the beginning against the in- 
justice which endeavoured to implicate himself and 
his friends with the conspiracies of perjurers and 
forgers, but his protest was disregarded. 


This first day of the trial was mainly occupied in the 
examination of Chabot, Bazire, the Freys and De- 
launay, accused of financial offences. Herman and his 
colleagues were apprehensive and nervous ; very disin- 
clinedtocometothe real business inhand. They dreaded, 
and with reason, the effect which Danton's eloquence 
might have upon the crowds who thronged the hall. 

Yet, in spite of all their efforts, he succeeded in 
obtaining a hearing late in the day. He rose to demand 
that a Committee, composed of members of the Con- 
vention, should be nominated to hear the protests 
which he, Camille and Philippeaux wished to make 
against the dictatorial methods of the Committee of 
Public Safety. The Tribunal was not by any means 
prepared to accede to this request ; nevertheless no 
valid reasons could be given for refusal, and to evade 
the necessity for answering decisively, Herman hastily 
broke up the sitting for that day. 

He then immediately went with Fouquier to take 
counsel V\^ith the Committee of Public Safety as to 
whether it was necessary to subpoena the witnesses 
of the accused ; the only members present were Saint- 
Just and Billaud-Varennes. It was decided that no 
answer should be given to the demands of the 
prisoners, but that, by some means or other, the 
sittings must be spun out until the three days had 
elapsed, after which, according to the rules of the 
Tribunal, the jurors might declare themselves suffi- 
ciently instructed to give a verdict without further 

On this second day, as Paris tells us, the hearing 
began very late. There had been many strange, heroic, 
amazing trials before the Tribunal, but never one like 
this. It was not possible to postpone Danton's 
examination any longer ; he rose now to speak, to 
justify himself before the people. 

And the people were there, to hear his defence. 
The Court was crowded to overflowing, a dense throng 


filled the Cour des Pas Perdus, and the Cour du 
Harlay. It extended outside, all around the walls 
of the Palais de Justice, and beyond along the Quais, 
crowding the Place Dauphine and reaching from thence 
to the Pont Neuf and the Mint. 

Each incident within the hall was repeated and 
repeated again from mouth to mouth in this packed, 
agitated mob, uneasy, they scarcely knew why, vaguely 
terrified at the sense of something portentous which, 
it seemed to them, was about to come to pass. Almost 
incredible as it may appear, we have it on the authority 
of many witnesses that Danton's great voice could be 
heard, through the open windows of the Court, even 
as far as the opposite bank of the Seine, when he raised 
it now and again in protest or indignation. 

And this was the voice which had so often called 
these self-same people to arms, it was the voice which 
had mustered the levies to destroy the Army of the 
Coalition, which had sounded like a tocsin on August 
icth, that terrible day of vengeance. This voice had 
had the power to move the Parisian mob again and 
again ... it had the power to move it still. Back- 
wards and forwards the crowd swayed, excited almost 
unbearably, ready for almost anything. It needed but 
a word to make them rise and carry the prisoners in 
triumph from the court — and that word might come 
at any moment. 

It is Danton's personality which dominates the 
whole of the proceedings henceforth. There is a 
rough but lifelike engraving which represents the 
great Tribune as he appeared on this day. He stands 
in the dock, towering above his companions, like a 
lion at bay — the hackneyed metaphor rises involun- 
tarily to one's lips in speaking of Danton — with head 
thrown back and collar open at the throat, his hair 
in wild disorder, and on his lips a smile of fierce disdain. 
Never did a man defend his life in such a fashion. 
With even more than his old energy and audacity of 


phrase and gesture he alternately browbeat and 
mocked at his accusers, crushing them beneath the 
weight of his just anger and his terrible scorn. 

They accused him of having been bought by the 
Court ; he interrupted their words with a veritable 
shout of indignation : 

" I sold ? A man of my stamp is priceless ! . . . 
Let him who accuses me to the Convention produce 
the proofs, the semi-proofs, the faintest signs of my 
venality ! . . . I have laboured too much ; I am sick 
of life : it is a burden to me." 

In violent, trenchant words he held up to scorn the 
insinuations brought against him of cowardice upon 
the day of August loth and contemptuously rebutted 
the accusation that he was the paid supporter of 
Mirabeau — D'Orleans — Dumouriez — each and all of 
those who had played for supremacy in the Republic 
and lost. He boasted — yet it was no boast but the 
simple truth — that he would willingly embrace his 
enemy for the sake of his country, for which he would 
give his body to be devoured. 

There is insight in the words in which Danton 
summed up certain of his contemporaries. 

" Marat had a fiery nature," he said. " Robespierre 
is tenacious and firm — and I — I was useful after my 
own fashion." 

Again and again Herman interrupted this torrent 
of words. 

" Danton," he said, " audacity is no proof of 
innocence. Your defence should be made in a more 
orderly manner." 

Then, as the accused man persisted in his loud 
justification, and the galleries buzzed with sympathy 
and half-suppressed applause, the President grew 
more and more agitated and indignant. 

" Do you not hear my bell ? " he cried. 

" A man defending his life despises your bell, and 
cries aloud," Danton shouted back defiantly. 


Danton had spoken no mere empty words at the 
beginning o£ his examination. 

" Provided that we are allowed to speak and to 
speak freely," he had said, " I am sure to confound 
my accusers, and if the French people are what they 
ought to be, I shall be obliged to ask for pardon for 
the rascals." 

Camille, according to Topino-Lebrun, echoed these 

" Ah, we shall be allowed to speak ! " he cried. 
" That is all we ask," and the juror adds that the 
accused deputies showed signs of great and heartfelt 

It was small wonder that Herman trembled, that 

Fouquier-Tinville trembled, that the whole Tribunal 

dreaded what would be the outcome of all this. The 

" Indulgents " might yet escape condemnation — 

unless Danton could be silenced. 

No easy task this. Louder and louder rose his voice, 
as he demanded that Billaud-Varennes and certain 
others should be called as witnesses. The Tribunal 
refused this, which every accused man might be 
thought to have the right to demand, and there is real 
and unaffected dignity in Danton's answer, choking 
with rage as he was. 

" I am refused witnesses ; very well, I will not 
defend myself any more, I have also to apologise for 
any unnecessary warmth I may have shown ; it is my 

Herman saw his opportunity and seized it. Pro- 
testing hypocritically that Danton appeared to be 
exhausted, he declared that the remainder of his 
defence must be postponed until the following day, and 
incontinently broke up the sitting. 

Throughout this day certain members of the 
Committee of General Security, Amar, Vouland and 
Vadier, had listened to all the proceedings from a 
place of concealment in an adjoining room. They 


shared the fears of the judges as to the outcome of the 
trial, and were equally determined that Danton and 
his colleagues must somehow be silenced. 

On the following day (the 15 th Germinal) it was 
again very late before the court was convoked. 
Although Danton demanded to be heard again at once, 
Herman passed on to the examination of certain of the 
other prisoners. After Herault came the turn of 
Camille, and we can gather plainly enough the course 
which his cross-examination took from his answers 
as reported in Topino-Lebrun's notes, scrappy and 
disjointed as they are. 

" At the time of my dispute with Saint-Just the latter said 
that he would kill me. ... I denounced Dumouriez before 
Marat. D'Orleans first. I commenced the Revolution ; my 
death will end it. . . . Marat was deceived in Proly. . . . 
What man is there who has not had his Dillon ? . . . Since 
the Fourth Number I have written only to retract. ... I 
have been encouraged, written to. . . . Have unmasked the 
Hubert faction. It is a good thing that someone did it." 

Furthermore certain passages from the " Vieux 
Cordelier " were read, in which Camille (and with 
reason) was accused of having scoffed at the Conven- 
tion and the Committees. It does not appear that 
Chauveau de Lagarde, who had been appointed the 
journalist's counsel, spoke on his behalf, but Camille, 
as we have seen, had prepared a written defence 
against the accusations in Saint-Just's report, which, 
however, he was to be given no opportunity to read. 

Herman then proceeded with the examination of 
Lacroix, but the accused man obstinately demanded 
that certain witnesses should be called in his defence. 

Fouquier-Tinville replied that he could not summon 
them, since they were members of the Convention, 
but this answer did not satisfy any of the prisoners. 
They protested indignantly against the injustice 
of this treatment, and a tumult arose in the court. 
The President tried vainly to interrogate Westermann, 


the Freys and Guzman ; he was constantly in- 
terrupted, especially by Danton, who never ceased to 
demand that their witnesses should be called. At 
last Fouquier rose to make an apparently reasonable 

" It is time to put a stop to this brawl," he said. 
" It is a scandal both to the Tribunal and to those who 
hear you. I will write to the Convention and ask what 
its wishes are ; they will be exactly carried out." 

This was more or less what the accused men desired ; 
they declared themselves satisfied, and the examination 
proceeded more quietly. 

Fouquier indeed immediately despatched a letter, 
but not, as he had promised, to the Convention. He 
wrote to the Committee o£ Public Safety, employing 
exaggerated and unjustifiable language to gain his 

" A terrible tumult has been raging ever since the sitting 
began," he wrote. " The maddened prisoners claim the hear- 
ing of their witnesses. . . . They appeal to the pubhc from 
the refusal which they pretend to have met with, in spite of 
the firmness of the President and of the entire Tribunal ; 
their protestations disturb the sitting, and they declare loudly 
that they will not be silent until their witnesses are heard. 
. . . We request you to trace our line of conduct for us 
definitely, as the judiciary order furnishes us with no means 
whatever for justifying this refusal. . , , We foresee that the 
only way to make them keep silence would be by a decree." 

It will be seen that even Fouquier does not pretend 
that the act which he contemplated was lawful — it 
was merely expedient. 

On receipt of this letter from the Public Prosecutor, 
the members of the Committee were undecided as to 
their course of action : Saint-Just alone persisted that 
it was necessary to refuse the demands of the accused 
at all costs. Yet some pretext was necessary ; some 
means must be found of putting the prisoners to 
silence. It was not until the end of the third day 


that the jurors could declare themselves satisfied, and, 
in the meantime, who knew what might happen, if 
Danton was permitted to speak freely. A pretext 
was ready to the hand of the Committee, and, infamous 
as it was, the members did not hesitate to avail them- 
selves of it. 

Arthur Dillon, who played the part of an unwilling 
evil genius in the lives of Camille and his wife, was 
at this time a prisoner in the Luxembourg, having 
been rearrested shortly before this date. It is very 
probable that Lucile wrote to the General after 
Camille's arrest ; he owed a great deal to her husband's 
efforts and might be expected to be ready to serve 
him by every means in his power. It is quite likely, 
moreover, that Dillon formed a plan to incite the 
populace to attack the Palais de Justice and release 
the prisoners, and, since he had plenty of money in 
his possession, he may have decided to distribute it 
judiciously to serve his purpose. 

Whatever his plans may or may not have been, it is 
said that the ex-general, under the influence of drink, 
talked freely and unwisely to one Laflotte, a fellow- 
prisoner, who had formerly been ambassador to 
Florence. This man resolved to betray Dillon, in 
the hope of receiving his own freedom as a reward, 
and he confided his intention to Captain Amans, one 
of those infamous prison spies or " moutons " who 
owed their existence to the system of terror. 

Laflotte and Amans wrote to the Committee of 
Public Safety on April 2nd and were conducted to 
the Tuileries and cross-examined on the subject. 
They exaggerated and misrepresented the affair, so as 
to make it appear as an organised prison conspiracy. 
Laflotte stated that Dillon had told him that it was 
time for good Republicans to make a stand against idle 
oppressors, that, if Danton was able to hold his own 
at the Tribunal, his condemnation was by no means 
assured, and that a large sum of money had been 


remitted to Lucile Desmoulins, in order that she might 
have the means of stirring up the people to revolt. 

At her trial Lucile expressly denied that she had 
received any money from Dillon. Moreover, it is 
inconceivable that she was engaged in any organised 
conspiracy at this time. Her one idea was how she 
might save Camille. She had wandered round the 
Luxembourg for hour after hour, in the hope of seeing 
him, she had written to, and sought interviews with, 
those in authority, she had snatched at any and every 
means by which she might obtain her husband's 
release, but very certainly she had no room in her 
thoughts for these schemes of " overturning the 
Republic," " of setting the son of Louis XVI upon 
the throne," whereof she was accused. 

It mattered very little to Saint-Just and his col- 
leagues whether the information which they had 
received was true or false. The hint of a " prison 
conspiracy " was always sufficient to scare the Conven- 
tion into submission, moreover it was the one thing 
calculated to thoroughly alarm the mob. 

Accordingly on the afternoon of this same day of 
15th Germinal, Saint -Just and Billaud - Varennes 
hastened to the Convention, and the former demanded 
an immediate hearing, in order that he might make a 
report in the names of the two Government Com- 

" The Public Prosecutor at the Revolutionary Tribunal," 
so this document began, " has informed us that the revolt 
of the culprits has caused the proceedings of justice to be 
suspended until the National Convention shall have deliber- 

The whole report did great credit to the ingenuity 
of Saint-Just. Even the natural anger of the accused 
men was made to appear unwarrantable and even 
criminal. Could sophistry go further than in this 
phrase ? 


" What innocent man ever rebelled against the 
laws ? We want no other proofs of their criminal 
attempts than this audacity." 

Saint-Just then went on to speak of the supposed 
prison conspiracy. 

" Dillon, who ordered his army to march upon 
Paris, has declared that the wife of Desmoulins has 
received money in order to promote a rising for the 
assassination of patriots, and of the Revolutionary 

Finally the report practically demanded that the 
Convention should adopt the accompanying decree, 
which ran as follows : — 

" The National Convention orders that the Revolutionary 
Tribunal shall proceed with the instruction relating to the 
conspiracy of Lacroix, Danton, Chabot and others. The 
President shall make use of every means which the law permits 
to cause his authority and that of the Revolutionary Tribunal 
to be respected, and to repress every attempt on the part of 
the accused to trouble public tranquillity and to hinder the 
course of justice. 

" It is decreed that all persons accused of conspiracy who 
shall resist or insult the national justice shall be outlawed and 
receive judgment on the spot." 

This decree was adopted by the whole Convention 
unanimously, so completely were even the friends of 
Danton cowed into submission at this moment. 
Vouland and Amar were immediately despatched 
with it to the Palais de Justice. 

Meanwhile things had not gone well at the Tribunal, 
as far as Fouquier and his associates were concerned. 
Danton had resumed his defence, and again his voice 
and words stirred the emotions of the crowd. Wester- 
mann also had made an impression on the people, 
justifying himself quietly and simply, like the valiant 
soldier that he was. 

It was at this vital moment that the emissaries of 


the Committee of General Security arrived with the 
decree. Paris has graphically described the scene. 

" They were pale," he says. " Anger and terror were painted 
on their countenances, so much did they fear that their 
victims would escape death. . . . Vouland said : ' We have 
them, the scoundrels ; they were conspiring at the Luxem- 
bourg.' They sent for Fouquier, who was in the court. He 
appeared at once. On seeing him, Amar said : ' Here is what 
you want.' It was the decree of outlawry. Vouland said : 
' Here is something to put you at ease.' Fouquier replied, 
with a smile : ' We wanted it badly enough.' He re-entered 
the court with an air of satisfaction, and read aloud the decree." 

One can faintly imagine the horror and indignation 
of the prisoners on hearing this infamous proclama- 
tion. Danton sprang to his feet. 

" I take my h^earers to witness," he cried, " that 
we have not insulted the Tribunal ! " 

There was a murmur of assent from many of those 
present, and Herman dreaded that some demonstration 
might be made in favour of the prisoners. Confident 
in the support of the Convention, he ordered that the 
accused men were to be at once removed from the 
court, such an order literally amounting to outlawry. 
It was in vain that the prisoners vehemently protested. 

" It is infamous ! " cried Lacroix. " We are judged 
without being heard." 

" No documents have been produced against us," 
shouted Danton. " Neither have any witnesses been 

The members of the Committee of General Security 
who had brought the decree to the Tribunal now 
entered the hall, their whole bearing full of ill- 
concealed triumph. Danton's eyes fell upon them, 
and he pointed them out to his companions, exclaiming 
with bitter scorn : 

" Look at those cowardly assassins ; they will hunt 
us to death ! " 

Unhappy Camille had an even more terrible cause 


for distress than his own imminent death. He had 
Hstened with horror as Fouquier read Saint-Just's 
iniquitous decree, had heard, with almost incredulous 
agony, that Lucile was to be involved in his own fall. 

" The wretches — the infamous wretches ! " he 
groaned. " Not content with killing me, they will 
murder my wife also ! " 

Camille's self-possession gave way entirely under 
this new blow. In a fury of anger he tore up his now 
useless defence and flung the fragments into Fouquier's 
face. When the guards came to remove the prisoners 
from the court, he clung to his seat and refused to 
leave the dock with his companions. It became 
necessary at last for three men to drag him from his 
place and practically to carry him from the hall. 

The prisoners were taken back to the Conciergerie 
and confined in separate cells. The crowds in the 
hall of the Tribunal and in the surrounding streets 
dispersed moodily. Notwithstanding the arbitrary 
methods of the Committees, notwithstanding the 
decree of the Convention, it was by no means certain 
that these measures would be successful. It was whis- 
pered that the jury would not agree — that the majority 
of them would be in favour of acquittal. 

But Fouquier, Herman and their colleagues were 
not to be baulked when their victory was so nearly 
won. Next morning, the i6th Germinal, the members 
of the Committee of General Security went to the 
Palais de Justicd, as Paris tells us, before nine o'clock 
and held a consultation in the Public Prosecutor's 
private room. Herman and Fouquier then went to the 
jury-room, and we are told, again on the authority of 
Paris, that the two men deliberately set themselves to 
persuade and threaten the jurors into declaring that 
they were satisfied with the evidence. 

Their task was accomplished before the court was 
declared open. Lhuillier alone of all the prisoners 
was acquitted. The rest were to die that same day. 


The accused men were not summoned again before 
the Tribunal : Herman and Fouquier doubted, 
reasonably enough, their ability to control Danton ; 
they feared the effect of his wrath and indignation. 
Accordingly it had been decreed that in consequence 
of the " indecorum, the sneers and the blasphemies 
of the accused in the presence of the Tribunal, the 
questions be submitted to the jury and the intervening 
judgment pronounced in the absence of the accused." 

Judgment was already pronounced. Even before 
the jury had given their verdict the death-sentence 
had been virtually passed and the compositors were 
setting it up in type, in order that it might be published 
immediately throughout Paris. 

The Dantonists themselves knew well what that in- 
evitable judgment would be. They awaited it on the 
whole calmly. 

One by one they were taken to the waiting-room of 
the Conciergerie to hear their sentences of death read 
to them by the clerk, Ducray. All of them refused to 
listen to that iniquitous pronouncement of judicial 

" It is useless," said Danton sternly. " You may as 
well take us at once to the guillotine. I will not listen to 
your judgment. We are assassinated ; that is enough." 

Camille, crouched in a corner of his cell, sat with his 
face buried in his arms, his body shaken by sobs. 
From time to time broken sentences escaped him : 
" Lucile . . . my little Horace. . . . Oh, my beloved ! 
. . . What will become of them ? " 

It must be remembered, before one calls him weak 
or unmanly, what poignant cause Camille had for 
grief — nay, almost for despair. It was not only the 
thought of his own death which he must needs face — 
though that, to a man as keenly alive as Camille, 
can be no light matter — but he knew also only too 
well, that Lucile, his beloved Lucile, stood in the 
same peril as himself. 


One must not forget, moreover, in judging Camille, 
that almost from the first he had reaHsed to what 
goal his campaign of clemency would lead — and, 
knowing it, had yet persisted to the end. 

Camille was no stoic ; he was only a helpless man, 
broken down in mind and body by all that he had 
passed through, a husband who saw his wife about to 
die for his sake, a father who pictured his baby son 
left desolate. This, then, was the end of it all. Never 
again would he feel the fierce exultation of popular 
triumph, the intense pleasure of the writer in fashion- 
ing the perfect phrase ; above all, never more would 
he know the closer and more intimate joys of his home 
life — never sit with Lucile, they two alone together 
in the flickering firelight. . . . Can we wonder if 
Camille wept ? — Heaven knows he had paid dearly 
enough for the right to shed those tears. 

It was but a short space in those days which elapsed 
between the passing of the sentence and its fulfilment. 
Short enough — yet the hours of that spring day must 
have seemed long to those who awaited their death. 

It was late in the afternoon when Sanson and his 
assistants came to make the last preparations. Poor 
Camille resisted impotently even now ; before they 
could bind his arms and cut away his hair and the 
collar of his shirt, the executioners were obliged 
to tie him to a chair. He only calmed himself when 
Danton, at his request, placed in his pinioned hands a 
locket which contained a tress of Lucile's hair. 

At five o'clock two tumbrils, drawn by huge grey 
Normandy horses, waited before the Conciergerie. 
A vast crowd were assembled around the gates of the 
prison to see the Dantonists pass out to their death. 
One by one the condemned men entered the carts and 
seated themselves upon the rough benches fixed against 
the sides. All of them were bareheaded and in their 
shirt-sleeves, with their arms firmly bound. 

Danton was the last to ascend the leading tumbril, 


following immediately after Camille. Fabre d'Eglan- 
tine was so weak that he could scarcely sit upright, and 
Danton took the place next to him, so that his broad 
chest served as a support for the sick man, and pre- 
vented him from falling from his seat when the 
jolting of the carts over the rough cobbles of the Rue 
Saint-Honore threw the prisoners against each other. 
On the other side was Camille, trembling with his 
efforts to keep calm. His white, drawn face and the 
scared, piteous look in his eyes arrested the attention 
of many onlookers. 

And between the two sat Danton, steady as a rock, 
and as rugged and unmoved. Those broad shoulders 
of his which had borne the weight of so many burdens 
now formed a physical support for his weaker com- 
panions, even as his strong courage nerved them 

In the same tumbril was Herault, he who had been 
called the handsomest man in France, aristocratic 
Herault de Sechelles, once a courtier and the friend 
of kings and queens. It might have been to some 
great Court function that they led Herault to-day, if 
one had judged only by his unmoved face and gallant 
bearing. Philippeaux, who, like Camille, was leaving 
a devoted wife and a young child, bore himself as a 
brave and honest man, while Westermann, in the 
second tumbril, faced death like a soldier, firm-lipped, 
with a stern, set face. 

The crowd surrounding the death-carts was 
enormous ; it surged against them in great waves, 
impeding their progress and forcing the horses, led 
by the executioner's assistants, to go with extreme 
slowness. And the vast mob was not silent ; it had 
neither respect nor pity for these men who were so 
soon to die. Probably many amongst the crowd were 
hired by the authorities to lead, as it were, the chorus 
of imprecation and abuse. The Committees feared 
the fickleness of the mob ; they dreaded that some 


voice might be raised in pity, to recall the services of 
these one-time leaders, and every precaution was 
taken to stifle such a cry before it could make itself 

Fierce curses, unspeakable insults rose from that 
escort of almost dehumanised men and women. 
Danton eyed them with unspeakable scorn ; he would 
not deign to appeal to those blind fools to spare his 
life, since gratitude was dead in them. Herault, 
Lacroix and Philippeaux seemed oblivious to all that 
passed around them ; Fabre was in a state of semi- 

But Camille — poor Camille ! He remembered too 
well the day when this same Parisian crowd, perchance 
these very men and women, had carried him shoulder- 
high from the Palais Royal, proclaiming him as their 
saviour, the leader of the Revolution. 

The change in them seemed to him incredible : he 
could not, even now, believe that men could be so 
cruel — so oblivious of past services. Surely — surely 
they would not let him die. . . . 

" You are deceived, citizens," he cried, his voice 
strained and hoarse. " Citizens ! it is your preservers 
who are being sacrificed. It was I — I, who on July 1 2th 
called you first to arms ! I first proclaimed liberty. 
. . . My sole crime has been pity. . ." 

Then, as the mob only answered him with jeers and 
derision, his appeals changed to threats — he hurled 
back insults, he struggled impotently against his 
bonds, struggled so that his thin shirt was torn to 
shreds, exposing his chest and shoulders. It was a 
piteous sight — yet it moved the crowd to nothing 
save mocking laughter. 

Then Danton spoke with rough kindliness. 

" Be quiet ! " he said to the desperate, almost 
exhausted man at his side. " Be quiet then ; leave 
this vile rabble alone." 

It would seem that the words of the greater man 


partially calmed Camille ; he grew quieter as the 
tumbrils passed slowly and yet more slowly through the 
thickening throng. 

Only once again he broke out. In the Rue Saint- 
Honore they passed a silent, shuttered house : it was 
the house of Duplay, and within Robespierre sat in 
his darkened room, pale and silent, whilst the man 
who had been his boyhood's friend passed by to his 

And at sight of those closed, dumb windows 
Camille drew himself upright in the tumbril — shouted 
at the top of his hoarse, weak voice, so that his words 
must surely have reached Robespierre's ears. 

" My assassins will not long survive me ! " he 

Slowly the tumbrils entered the Place de la Revolu- 
tion. Over the heads of the crowd, close-packed in 
the great square, the condemned men could see the 
instrument of their death reared on the spot where the 
obelisk now stands. Above it rose an enormous plaster 
statue of Liberty, silhouetted against the rose-flushed 
sky, and the rays of the setting sun tinged the por- 
tentous image and the guillotine itself with stains like 

The carts reached the foot of the scaffold ; the 
prisoners descended from them one by one, Herault 
was the first of the " Indulgents " to die. He bent to 
kiss Danton as he passed him, but the executioners 

" Fools," said Danton, with bitter and terrible 
mockery. " You cannot prevent our heads from 
meeting later in the basket." 

Lacroix next ascended the scaffold, and then 
Camille was summoned. 

At this last supreme moment, his self-control 
returned ; he faced death steadily. He ascended the 
ladder with a firm step, his dark eyes fixed on the great 
statue, towering above him. 


" So the first apostle of liberty falls . . ." he mur- 

Sanson approached to bind him to the plank, and 
Camille showed him the lock of Lucile's hair which 
was still dasped in his hand. 

" Send this to her mother . . ." he said, and then, 
as they pushed him under the knife, with his last 
breath came the broken words : " Oh, my poor 
wife. . . ." 

Last of them all died Danton. He also thought of 
his wife, and, at the thought, even his iron self-control 
gave way. 

" My beloved, I shall never see thee again," he 
muttered, under his breath, and then, fighting back 
his grief : " Come, come, Danton, no weakness ! " he 
said aloud. 

Once again, and for the last time, that mighty 
voice rang out, over the heads of the awed and 
trembling crowd. 

" Show my head to the people ! " he commanded 
Sanson. " It is good to look at ; they do not see the 
like every day." 

" My poor wife. . . ." Lucile would not have 
echoed those words of Camille's. We have seen how 
one of these faithful lovers died, and the story is sad 
enough. Now, we must turn to watch the triumphant 
passing of Lucile Desmoulins. 

Alexandre de Laflotte and Captain Amans, the 
sheep of the prisons, had filled in the outlines of an 
almost imaginary plot in the Luxembourg, until it 
grew well defined, and in the end became formidable 
enough to bring about the condemnation and death 
of the Dantonists. 

But their work was not yet at an end. 

On the 15th Germinal, the eve of Camille's death, 
the warrant was issued for Lucile's arrest. They 
did not leave the girl to mourn her husband even upon 


the day of his execution ; she was carried to the 
prison of Saint-Pelagie, dragged from her parents and 
her Httle boy, the only hving creatures who could have 
consoled her. 

Yet we are told that Lucile went willingly and even 
gladly ; she seemed assured that it was only by this 
pathway that she could reach Camille's side once more. 

Lucile was transferred to the Conciergerie on the 
1 8th Germinal. She met there those who were to 
be her companions in death — Arthur Dillon, Gobel, 
the ex-bishop, Chaumette, the Grammonts, father and 
son, Hebert's widow — in all eighteen men and women. 
It was a strange fate which decreed that Lucile 
Desmoulins and the wife of Hebert should die together. 
All the bitter enmities of their husbands were for- 
gotten now, and we read that the two women sat 
together for hours, on a stone in the courtyard, 
weeping for the men whom they so dearly loved. 

On the 2 1st Germinal the prisoners were brought 
before the Tribunal. They were accused, said their 
judges, of having conspired against the safety of the 
people, and of having wished to destroy the National 
Convention, further, of being in the pay of the 
foreigner and of having aimed at replacing on the 
throne of France the son of Louis XVI. 

All defence was useless, even if it had been permitted. 
As Chaumette truly said : " You have decided upon 
my fate. I await my destiny with calmness." 

It was with more than calmness that Lucile heard 
that fate pronounced. She had remained perfectly 
serene all through the three days' trial, quietly denying 
the charges of treason brought against her, yet almost 
dreading acquittal, so it seemed to the onlookers. 
When the death sentence was passed upon herself and 
her companions, a strange, supernatural joy shone in 
her eyes. 

^' What happiness ! " she cried. " In a few hours I 
shall see my Camille again ! " 


And then, so it was said, a spirit of prophecy seemed 
to come upon the girl, as she turned to her judges. 

" In quitting this earth to which love no longer 
binds me," she said solemnly, " I am less to be 
pitied than you ; for, at your death, which will be 
infamous, you will be haunted by remorse for what 
you have done." 

Lucile's strange exaltation filled her until the end. 
Those who saw her were amazed at her joyful bearing. 
Hebert's widow said to her with bitter self-con- 
demnation : 

" You are lucky ; nobody speaks ill of you : there 
is no stain on your character ; you will leave life by 
the grand staircase." 

When Lucile apologised sweetly to Arthur Dillon 
for having aided to bring about his death, the gallant 
Irishman laughed at her self-reproach. But when he 
tried to find words for his own sympathy, Lucile 
interrupted him. 

" Look at my face," she said joyfully. " Is it that 
of a woman who needs to be comforted ? " 

She was dressed all in white, as though for a bridal, 
and with a white handkerchief passed over her head 
and tied under her chin. She seemed a very child, 
for she had cut off her soft, fair hair, and sent it to her 
mother with a little note of farewell. 

" Good-night, dearest mother. A tear drops from 
my eyes ; it is for you. I am going to sleep in peace 
and innocence. Lucile." 

As they waited for the summons to death, the girl's 
courage never failed her. 

" They have assassinated the best of men," she said. 
" If I did not hate them for that, I should bless them 
for the service they have done me this day." 

She bowed to Dillon almost merrily as she ascended 
the tumbril ; she talked sweetly and calmly to those 
who travelled with her along that gloomy road which 
led to death. 


Dillon no longer tried to hide his real feelings at the 
end. " Long live the King ! " he cried, as he stood 
upon the scaffold, and laughed at the outcry of the 

Of Lucile no last words are recorded. She had no 
thought of how her bearing would impress the by- 
standers, no thought at all beyond the ever-present 
consciousness that she was about to rejoin Camille. 
No faintest shadow of doubt dimmed that hope. She 
passed lightly up the steps of the guillotine, her " grand 
staircase," she lay down as directed upon the plank. 
Her colour had scarcely changed, and always she 
smiled — as one sees a child smile at some inward, 
joyful thought. 

Very sure it is that death had lost its sting for 
Lucile Desmoulins. It is even hard for us to feel the 
tragedy of it all, since to her it was no such thing, but 
a very joyous journey which should end in " lovers' 

The tragedy lies here as always with those who were 
left, those on whom such overwhelming sorrow and 
loss had descended. 

In quiet, homely Guise a lonely old man mourned 
for all who were nearest and dearest to him, for his 
wife, " the half of himself," and for his eldest son, the 
brilliant, lovable son who had been his pride. The 
letter is still preserved in which M. Desmoulins pleaded 
with Fouquier for Camille's life, a letter as noble and 
dignified as was the man himself. 

" Camille Desmoulins (my son)," he writes, " I speak from 
sincere conviction, is a true Republican, a Republican in 
feeling, in principles, and, so to speak, by instinct. . . . His 
perfect disinterestedness and love of truth have kept him on 
a level with the loftiest aspirations of the Revolution. . . . 

" Citizen, I ask of you but one thing, in the name of 
justice and of our country — for the true Republican thinks 
of naught besides — to investigate, and to cause the examining 
jury to investigate the conduct of my son, and that of his 


denouncer, whosoever he may be ; it will soon be known which 
is the true Republican. The confidence I have in my son's 
innocence makes me believe that this accusation will prove a 
fresh triumph, as well for the Republic as for him." 

This letter is dated 15th Germinal ; it was, there- 
fore, not received by Fouquier until after the death of 

It was not for long that M. Desmoulins mourned 
his son ; a few months later he too was dead, literally 
of a broken heart. At about the same time M. Du- 
plessis died also, for the guillotine had killed both 
Lucile and her father with one and the same blow. 

And now two only were left of that happy little 
group — " our dear Daronne " and " the little Horace." 
From henceforth Madame Duplessis devoted her life 
to the child of Camille and Lucile. She toiled and 
schemed untiringly for his interests, and, in spite of 
dreary poverty and innumerable obstacles, she managed 
to give him a good education and to enrol him in his 
father's profession. 

Nevertheless, Horace Desmoulins remains, as far 
as we are concerned, a colourless, shadowy figure. In 
1 8 17 he migrated to Hayti, where he married, and in 
that far-off tropical island he died, not long after- 
wards, when he was but thirty-three years old — 
Camille's age. 

Madame Duplessis survived her grandson ; she 
lived far into the nineteenth century, a lonely, sorrow- 
ful woman. Few sought her out in those humble 
lodgings in the Rue Sorbonne, where she dwelt, as 
it were, in a land of shadows, in which Camille and 
Lucile, her husband, and little Horace, were as real 
as the living people about her. 

And so we close our story ; for, after all, what more 
is there to say ? To some it may seem that this life 
of Camille's was indeed a vain shadow, and his death 
profitless — that only proves that they have misread, 
or we miswritten his history. 


We have tried throughout to portray the man as he 
really was, hiding none of his faults, striving not to 
exaggerate his virtues. He must needs appear as 
weak, emotional, easily moved from one extreme to 
the other ; as a modern writer says : " He was the 
prey of impulses, the sport of passions, a fascinating 

Yet, with it all, and in spite of all, the better one 
learns to know Camille, the easier it is to forgive him ; 
for he loved, and was loved much. 

Moreover, his political ideals were high, although 
he pursued them along devious paths. The Republic 
of his dreams was a fair thing, a mistress for whom men 
might well live and die. 

And to those who think that it was but a lost cause 
for which Camille gave his life, there can be no better 
answer than the words of a decree, passed by the 
Council of Five Hundred two years later — words 
which form also his most fitting epitaph. 

" Considerant que Camille Desmoulins, aussi representant 
du peuple, membre de la Convention Nationale, fut conduit 
a la mort pour s'etre eleve centre les proscriptions, et avoir 
rappele des sentiments d'humanite deja trop longtemps 
oublies ; qu'il est instant de venir au secours de ces infor- 
tunes, qui ont des droits egaux a la reconnaissance nationale." 


List of Chief Authorities Consulted 

" CEuvres de Camille Desmoulins." Editions of Charpentier 

and Matton. 
" Correspondance de Camille Desmoulins." 
*' Camille Desmoulins and his Wife." Jules Claretie. 
" Portefeuille de Lucile Desmoulins." 
" Etudes biographiques sur Camille Desmoulins et Roch Mar- 

candier." Edouard Fleury. 
" Political History of the French Revolution." A. Aulard. 
" French Revolution." F. von Sybel. 

" Historical View of the French Revolution." J. Michelet. 
" The French Revolution." Louis Blanc. 
" Histoire des Journaux de France, ou un chapitre de la 

Revolution Francais de 1789-99." C. de Monseignat. 
" The French Revolution." J. H. McCarthy. 
" Secret Societies of the French Revolution." U. Birch. 
" The French Revolution." J. F. Mignet. 
" Travels in France." Arthur Young. 
" Lectures on the French Revolution." Lord Acton. 
" Lectures on the French Revolution." William Smyth. 
" Histoire des Girondins." A. de Lamartine. 
" Les Jacobins." H. Taine. 

" Robespierre and the Red Terror." Jan ten Brink. 
" The Great French Revolution." P. A. Kropotkin. 
" Memoires." Madame Roland. 
" Revolutionary Biographies." J. Adolphus. 
" Letters." H. M. WilHams. 
" Memoirs." Dr. Moore. 
" The French Revolution." Thomas Carlyle. 
" The Men and Women of the French Revolution." P. Gibbs. 
" Danton." A. H. Beesley. 
" Robespierre." H. Belloc. 



" Danton." H. Belloc. 

"The French Revolution." H. Belloc. 

" Vieilles Maisons, Vieux Papiers." G. Lenotre. 

" The Tribunal of the Terror." G. Lenotre. 

" The Flight of Marie-Antoinette." G. Lenotre. 

" Memoirs." B. Barere. 

" Maximilien Robespierre." G. H. Lewes. 

" Memoirs." Marquis de Barras. 

" Histoire Anecdotique du Tribunal Revolutionaire." Charles 

" Hommes des Proies." Roch Marcandier. 
" Paris in 1789-94." J. G. Alger. 
" Glimpses of the French Revolution." J. G. Alger. 
" The French Revolution." Thiers. 
" The History of Europe." A. Alison. 
" Memoirs." H. Sanson. 

" Marat, the People's Friend." E. Belfort Bax. 
" Reflections on the Revolution in France." Edmund Burke. 
" Memoirs." Miot de Melito. 
" Memoirs." Mdlle. des Echerolles. 
" Walks in Paris." Georges Cain. 
" Proces des Dantonistes." H. Robinet. 
" Comment se tuent les Republiques." H. Robinet. 
" La Famille Sainte-Amaranthe." Madame A. R. 
" Journal of a Spy in Paris, 1794." Raoul Hesdin. 
" The Public Prosecutor of the Terror." A. Dunoyer. 
" Anecdots inedits de la fin du dix-huitieme Siecle." 
" Nouveau Voyage de France." C. M. Saugrain. 
" Paris." H. Belloc. 
" Wanderer in Paris." E. V. Lucas. 


Abbaye, Prison of the, 84 
Achilles, 115 

" Actes des Apotres," 135 
Acton, Lord, " Lectures on the 
French Revolution," 196, 

Adam, L'lle, 183 
Adolphus, J., " Biographical 

Memoirs," 161, 319 
Agrarian Laws, ']6, 78 
Alger, J. G., " Glimpses of the 

French Revolution," 320 
" Paris in 1789-1794," 320 
Alison, Sir A., " History of 

Europe," 320 
Amans, Captain, 302, 312 
Amar, 299, 304, 305 
" Ami du Peuple," 102, no, 174, 

" Anecdotes inedites de la fin du 

dix-huitieme siecle," 294 
Anthoine, F. P. N., 159 
Antonelle, 220, 284 
A. R., Madame, 43 
Arcis-sur-Aube, 182, 226, 229, 

269, ±1-] 
" Argus, The," 214 
Arras, 38, 49 
Arsenal, The, 68 
" Assassinateurs, The," 118, 119 
" August 4th, day of," 83, 84 
" August loth, day of," 185, 188 

seq., 265, 270, 297 
Augustus, 238, 239, 240 

Aulard, A., " Political History of 
the French Revolution," 28, 
81, 170, 174, 201, 243, 319 


BaiUy, J. S., 55, 158, 160, 161, 

173, 178 
Barbaroux, C. J. M., 169, 184, 

185, 212 
Bar^re, Bertrand, 219, 250, 320 
Barnave, A. P. J. M., 103, 137, 

143, 148, 151, 168, 235, 273, 

Barras, Marquis de, 320 
Bastille, The, 68 seq., 97, 107, 113, 

114, 115, 123, 184 
Bax, E. Belfort, "Marat, the 

People's Friend," 320 
Bazire, 293, 296 
Beaubourg, 62 
Beauharnais, Alexandre, 149 
Beesley, A, H., " Danton," 319 
Beffroi, 171 
Belesme, 98 

Belloc, H., " The French Revo- 
lution," 196, 319 
" Danton," 196, 319 
" Robespierre," 319 
" Paris," 320 
Berardier, Abbe, 24, 125, 127, 128 
Bergasse, N., 116 
Bernard, 161, 163 
Bernese Oberland, The, 64 
Berthier, 84 




Besenval, Pierre Victor B. de, 

71, 72 
Billaud-Varennes, J. N,, 215, 231, 

250, 296, 299, 303 
Birch, Una, " Secret Societies of 

the French Revolution," 45, 

46, 319 . 
Blanc, Louis, " The French 

Revolution," 242, 319 
Boilly, L. L., 122 
Bois de Boulogne, 119 
Boisguyon, G., 173 
Bonnemere, Aubin, 72 
Bonneville, 146 
Boucher Saint-Sauveur, 158 
Bouchotte, 251, 253 
Bouille, F. C. A., Marquis de, 144 
Bourdon de I'Oise, 257 
" Bourgeois Monarchy, The," 

170, 175 
Bourg-la-Reine, 38, 112, 130, 183, 

186, 188, 264 
Bourville, Abbe de, 51 
Boverie, 64 
Brabant, 100 
Bravet, 294 
Breard, 213 
Brest, 185, 192 
Breze, Marquis de, 55, 56 
Brink, Jan ten, " Robespierre and 

the Red Terror," 319 
" Brissot Demasque," 87, 172, 

177, 206, 220, 233 
Brissot, J. P., 46, 98, 127 seq., 139, 

159, 169 seq., 202, 206 seq., 

216, 219, 234, 259 
" Brissotins, The," 169 
Brittany, 52 
Brune, Marshal (Patagon), 131, 

159, 262, 263 
Brunswick, Duke of, 176, 183 
Brutus, 81, 132, 235, 239, 240, 

246, 252, 286 
Burke, Edmund, " Reflections 

on the Revolution in 

France," 320 

Buzot, 169, 212 
Byron, Lord, 92 

" Cabran d'Or," 185 

Cahiers, The, 47, 48, 68 

Cain, Georges, " Walks in Paris," 

_ 23, 24, 320 
Caligula, 165 
Calvados, 1 85 
Calvin, 20 
Cambon, 233 
Camus, A. G., 118 
Carlyle, Thomas, " French Revo- 
lution," 103, 133, 140, 319 
Carmelite Convent, Prison of, 

Carnot, L. N. M., 219 
Carrier, J. B., 269 
Carrousel, Place de, 203 
Cateau-Cambresis, 22 
Cato, 240 
Chabot, Francois, 290, 293, 296, 

Champ-de-Mars, 56, 65, 71, 113, 

114, 123, 158, 184 
Champ-de-Mars, Massacre of, 

160, 163, 165, 233 
Champs Elysees, 6^, 114, 166 
Charenton, 185 
Charles I, 201 
Charpentier, 319 
Charpentier, Gabrielle (see 

Madame Danton) 
Charpentier, Madame, 188 
Chateaubriand, F. A., 52, 132 
Chatelet, The, 93, 116, 117 
Chaumette, Anaxagoras, 229, 

231, 233, 241, 284, 313 
Chauveau-de-Lagarde, 288, 300 
Chenier, Marie- Joseph, 219 
Choderlos de Laclos, 158, 159 
" Chronicle de Paris," 94 
Cicero, 27, 76, 80, loi, 252 



Claretie, Jules, " Camille Des- 

moulins and his Wife," 1 9, 

32, 40, 64, 104, no, 122, 

123, 163, 225, 262, 286, 319 
Claviere, 194 
" Clemency, Committee of," 

131, 227, 243 seq., 265, 266 
Clootz, Anarcharsis, 231 seq., 269 
Clos-Payen, 130 
Coalition, The, 177, 1 83, 207 
Coblentz, 180 
Cobourg, 284 
CoUot d'Herbois, 248, 255 seq., 

268, 276 
Combes, Louis, jS 
Commerce, Cour de, 190 
Commission of Execution {see 

Committee of Public Safety) 
Conciergerie, The, 74, 273, 285, 

290, 291, 306, 307, 308, 313 
Conde, Prince de, 32 
Conde, Rue de, 127, 133 
Condorcet, J. A. N. de Caritat, 

Constitution, Committee of, 147 
Constitution, The, 80, in, 165, 

170, 176, 180, 202, 241, 245 
" Contrat Social," The, 244 
Corday, Charlotte, 212 
Cordeliers, Church of the, 126, 

Cordeliers Club, 107, 115, 158, 

178, 228, 229, 249, 262, 269 
Correctional Police Court, 171 
" Courier de Provence," 97 
Couthon, Georges, 213, 231 
Crillon, 116 

Cromwell, Oliver, 137, 173 
Curtius, 64 
Cyneas, 80 


Danican, General, 67 
Danton, Georges-Jacques, 38, 46, 
89, 107, no, 115 

Friendship with Camille, 133, 
134, 140, 144, 146, 148, 159, 
161, 169, 178, 182, 185 
Organises the rising of August 

loth, 188 seq. 
Raises troops against the 

Coalition, 206 seq. 
Retires to Arcis-sur-Aube, 219, 

226, 227 
Returns to Paris, 229, 230 
Loses his influence, 247, 251 
Endeavours to make peace 
between Camille and Robes- 
pierre, 260 
Indifferent to danger, 275 
Arrested and conveyed to the 

Luxembourg, 277 seq. 
Hears his accusation, 290 
Removed to Conciergerie, 291 
Trial of Dantonists, 293 seq. 
Sentenced to death, 307 
Execution of the Dantonists, 
308 seq. 
Danton, Madame, 188, 190 
Dauphine, Place, 297 
Dauphiny, 52 
Deforgues, 263 
Delaunay, 293, 296 
Demosthenes, 289 
Denisard, M., 36 
Desboisseaux, 294 
Desenne (Desein), 53, 244, 250, 

Desmoulins, Lucie - Simplice - 
Camille-Benoist : 
Birth of, 19 
Statues and portraits of, 20, 

Character of, 23, 25, 39, 40, 

109, 317 
Personal characteristics of, 35, 

36, 43, 44> 131 
As a journalist, 82, 87, 88, 102 

seq., 138 
Education at the College 

Louis-le-Grand, 23 seq. 



Returns to Guise, 30 

Becomes Advocate to the Par- 
liament of Paris, 34 

His poverty, 36 

Introduction to the Duplessis 
family, 37 

As a Freemason, 45 

Attempts to obtain election to 
the States-General, 48 seq. 

First published pamphlets of, 

49. 50, 54 

Hears news of Necker's dis- 
missal and harangues crowd 
in the Palais Royal, 58 seq. 

Incites the Parisians to attack 
the Bastille, 70 

Sudden popularity of, 75 seq. 

Publication of " La France 
Libre," 76 seq. 

Publication of " Discours de la 
Lanterne," 82 seq. 

Financial difficulties of, 95, 96 

His friendship with Mirabeau, 

97. 98 

Edits " Revolutions de France 
et de Brabant," 100 seq. 

Suitor of Lucile Duplessis, 106 

Joins the Club of the Corde- 
liers, 107 

Quarrels with Mirabeau, 108 

Denounced to National As- 
sembly by Victor Malouet, 

Betrothal and Marriage, 124 

Friendship with Danton, 133 

Relations with Mirabeau, 138 

Implicated in affair of the 
Champ-de-Mars, l^g seq. 

Ceases publication of " Revo- 
lutions de France et de 
Brabant," 162 

Quarrels with Brissot, 170 seq. 

Edits " Tribune des Patriotes," 

Birth of Horace-Camille Des- 
moulins, 181 

Implication in the affair of 
August loth, 187 seq. 

Elected Deputy to the Con- 
vention, 199 

Publishes " Histoire des Bris- 
sotins," 209 

Defends Arthur Dillon, 213 

Reaction of feeling of, 220 seq. 

Publishes " Vieux Cordelier," 
226 seq. 

Accused at the Jacobins Club, 

233 -f^?-. 247 
Defends Philippeaux, 236, 237 
Expelled from Cordeliers Club, 

Denounced by Collot d'Her- 

bois, 255 
Denounces the " ultras," 268 

Arrest of, 279 
Letters to his wife from the 

Lvixembourg, 281 seq. 
Brought before Revolutionary 

Tribunal, 293 seq. 
Condemned to death, 306 
Execution of, 312 
Desmoulins, Anne - Lucile - 

Philippe-Laridon : 
First meets Camille, 37 seq. 
Character of, 41 seq., 122, 218 
Diary of, 42 
Personal appearance of, 121, 

122, 130 
Her love for Camille, 106, 123, 

124, 219 
Royalist libels against, 134, 135 
Account of August loth, 187 

Letter to Freron, 266, 267 
Grief at Camille's arrest, 280 

Arrest of, 312 

Trial and condemnation, 313 
Execution of, 314, 315 



Desmoulins, Jean-Benoit- 

Nicholas : 
His character and position, 19, 

20, 21 
Nominated for States-General, 


Relations with Camille, 94, 

125 . . 

Warns Camille against voting 

for death of Louis XVI, 205 
Writes to Fouquier-Tinville, 

Death of, 316 

Desmoulins, Marie - Magdeleine 

Godart : 
Her character, 21 
Death of, 278 
Desmoulins, Armand-Jean-Louis- 

Domitille du Bucquoy, 21,22 
Desmoulins, Lazare-Nicolas-Nor- 

bert-Felicite Semery, 21, 22, 

Desmoulins, Marie-Emilie-Tous- 

saint, 22 
Desmoulins, Anne-Clotilde-Pela- 

gie, 22 
Desmoulins, Horace-Camille, 181, 

182, i87j 271, 278, 280 seq., 

Despagnac, 293 
Despois, Eugene, 120 
Dessessarts, D., 119 
" Dictionnaire Universel de la 

France," 47 
Diedrichsen, 293 
Dillon, Arthur, 43, 213, 214, 215, 

234^ 235> 300, 302, 304, 313, 

.3i4> 315 

" Dillon, Lettre au General," 

215 seq., 234 
Diogenes, 83 
Directory, The, 208 
Dithurbide, 171 
Drouet, J. B., 150 
Drusus, 232 
Du Barry, Madame, 113 

Ducancel, 159 

Ducray, 307 

Dumouriez, C. F., 177, 207, 298, 

Dunkirk, 102 
Dunoyer, A., " Public Prosecutor 

of the Terror," 320 
Duplain (Saturn), 131 
Duplay, 311 
Duplessis, Monsieur, 37, 41, 106, 

122 seq., 128, 268, 316 
Duplessis, Madame, 37, 41, 106, 

123 seq., 128, 130, 131, 187, 

Duplessis, Adele (Annette), 37, 

Duport, 138, 168 


EcheroUes, Mademoiselle des, 320 

Ecoles, Cafe des, 188 

Electoral Committee of Paris, 69, 

Elie, Captain, 72 
Elizabeth of France, 128 
"Emigres," 136, 137, 176 
Encyclopaedists, The, 45 
" Enrages " {see " Ultras ") 
Essarts, Emmanuel des, no 

Fabre d'Eglantine, P. F. N., 107, 
256, 257, 266, 283, 290, 293, 

309. 310 
Fauchet, Abbe, 46, 185 
Favras, Marquis de, 108, 264 
Fenelon, Archbishop, " Maxims 

of the Saints," 250 
Ferroux, 284 

" Festival of the Federation," 1 1 3 
Feuillants, Club of, 251 
Feuillants, Terrace of, 179 
Five Hundred, Council of the, 

219, 317 
Flesselles, de, 73 



Fleuriot-Lescot, 294 
Fleury, Edouard, 32, 319 
Florence, 302 
Fontenay-sous-Bois, 161 
Forget, 36 
Foucault, 294 
Foulon, J. F., 83, 84 
Fouquier-Tinville, A. Q., 196, 

214, 292, 293, 294, 296, 299, 

300 seq., 315, 316 
F07, Cafe, 63 
" France Libre, La," 53, 75 seq., 

94, 173, 261 
Franklin, Benjamin, 28 
Freemasonry in France, 45, 46 
French Revolution, Causes of, 44, 

First bloodshed in, 65 
Proclamation of Republic, 199 
Freron, Stanislas (Lapin), 24, 37, 

III, 112, 131, 162, 172, 174, 

175, 189, 264, 265, 266, 267 
Frey, 293, 296, 301 
Friends of the Constitution, 

Society of, 165 
Fusius Geminus, 239 

Garde-Meuble, d'] 

Carney, loi 

Gar ran de Coulon, 146 

" Gavroche," 104 

" Gazette Universel," 233 

General Defence, Committee of 

{see Committee of Public 

General Security, Committee of, 

248, 276, 299, 305, 306 
Gensonne, Armand, 210 
Gibbs, Philip, " Men and Women 

of the French Revolution," 

174, 198, 220, 319 
Girey-Dupre, 171 
Girondins, the, 87, 169, 201, 209, 

210, 219, 220, 234, 290 

Gobel, Bishop, 313 
Gobelins Section, 147 
Godart, Marie-Joseph-Benoit, 22 
Godart, Rose-Flore-Amelie, 33, 

34, 216 
Godart-Brisieux, 22 
Godart-Brisieux, Madame, 32 
Gracchi, 232 
Grammont, 313 
Greve, Place de, 83 
Grosse-Beaurepaire, 285 
Guadet, M. E., 143, 169, 210, 233 
Gueudeville, Abbe, 128 
Guise, 19, 31, 32, 33, 35, 37, 49, 

93, 94, 181, 195, 199, 216, 

Guzman, 293, 301 


Hamel, Frank, 192 

Hampden, John, 28 

Harlay, Cour de, 297 

Harpe, Rue de la, 75 

Hayti, 316 

Hebert, J. R., 88, 102, 228, 248, 
251 seq., 262, 265, 268 seq. 

Hebert, Madame, 313, 314 

Hebertists {see " Ultras ") 

Herault de Sechelles, M. J,, 275, 
284, 290, 292, 293, 295, 300, 
309 seq. 

Hermann, A. M. J., 294, 295, 296, 
298, 299, 300, 305, 307 _ 

Hervey, John, " Meditations 
among the Tombs," 280 

Hesdin, Raoul, " Journal of a 
Spy in Paris, 1794," 320 

" Histoire des Brissotins" ("Frag- 
ment de I'Histoire Secrete de 
la Revolution "), 27, 198, 
209, 210, 211 

Homer, 115 

Hosea, 156 

Hulin, 72 



" Indulgents," party of, 275, 277, 

289, 293 
'* Insurrection du 31 mai, Adresse 

des Jacobins aux," 212 
Invalides, Les, 69, 70, 71 
Isnard, Max., 169 


Jacobin Club, 89, 103, 107, 120, 
138, 148, 150, 158, 159, 161, 
165, 173, 178, 180, 200, 209, 
211, 215, 228 seq., 241, 255, 
262, 276 

Jacobins, Church of the, 159 

Job, 224 

" Journal de la Cour et de la 
ViUe," 135 

" Journal des Etats-'Generaux," 


" Journal Fran^ais," 200 
Journalism, 53, 100, 103, 105, 134 
" July 14th, day of," 70, 72 
" June 20th, day of," 178, 179 
Justice, Committee of, 243 
Justice, Palais de, 293, 297, 302, 
304, 306 


Kersaint, G. P. de C, 198 
Kropotkin, P. A., " The Great 
French Revolution," 319 

Lacroix, J. F. de, 281, 290, 293, 
300, 304, 305, 310, 311 

La Fayette, M. P. R. Y. G. M., 
Marquis de, 28, 144, 147 
seq., 153, 160 seq., 1 73, 1 80, 

Laffrey, 11 1 

Laflotte, Alexandre de, 302, 312 

Lagrange, 22 

Lamartine, A, de, " Histoire des 

Girondins," 319 
Lambesc, Prince de, 65, 66 
Lameth, Charles de, 103, 137, 

138, 158, 168, 173, 235 
Lameth, Alexandre de, 118, 168 
Lamoignon, C. F., 195 
Lanthenas, 159 
Laon, 48, 127, 199 
La Poype, 159 
La Rochefoucauld, 46 
La Roche jacquelein, Henri du V., 

Latour-Maubeuge, M. C. C. F., 

Laudreville, Abbe, 283 
Launay, R. B. J. de, 69 seq. 
Lebrun, C. F., 194 
Lecointre, Laurent, 182 
Legendre, Louis, 161, 216, 276, 

288, 289 
Legislation, Committee of, 277 
Legislative Assembly, 145, 146, 

147, 164, 168, 199, 201, 233 
Lemoine, 22 
Lenotre, G., " Flight of Marie 

Antoinette," 147, 319 
" Tribunal of the Terror," 196, 

" Vielles Maisons, Vieux 

Papiers," 104, 127, 130, 

262, 320 
Leroy (Dix-Aoiit), 294 
Lescure, L. M., Marquis de, 233 
" Lettres de Cachet," 80 
" Lettres de Mirabeau a scs 

Commettants," 97 
Lewies, G. H., " Maximilien 

Robespierre," 320 
Lhuillier, 293, 306 
Liberte, Salle de, 293 
Liberty, Statue of, 311 
Lindet, Robert, 277 
Lorme, de, 72 
Louis-Quinze, Place, 74 
Louis XIV, 80 



Louis XV, 80 

Louis XVI, 47, 56, 73, 81, 88, 99, 

III, 114, 116, 136, 143 seq., 

152, 158, 165, 170, 176 seq., 

194, 200 seq. 
" Louis XVI, Opinion upon the 

Judgment of," 202 
Louis XVII, 206, 303, 313 
Louis-le-Grand, College of, 23, 

24, 274 
Loustalot, Elysee, 119, 120, 123 
Louvet de Couvray, J. B., 169, 

Lucas, E. v., "A Wanderer in 

Paris," 320 
Lumiere, 294 
Lunettes, Quai de, 226 
Luxembourg, Gardens of, 38, 

106, 270, 271, 281 
Luxembourg, Palace of, 189, 266, 

281, 286, 288, 302 seq., ■^iz 
Lyons, 248, 255 


McCarthy, J. H., " The French 
Revolution," 87, 138, 319 

Machiavelli, N, di B. dei, 229 

Madelonnettes, Prison of the, 
213, 214 

Malouet, Victor, 115 seq., 1 29 

Mandar, Theophile, 158 

Manuel, P. L., 205 

Marat, Jean-Paul, 102, no, 112, 
115,118, 17^,175, 197, 198, 
209, 212, 247, 298, 300 

Marcandier, Roch, " Hommes 
des Proies," 162, 163, 320 

Marck, de la, 140 

Marie-Antoinette, 52, 56, 99, 
136, 143, 144, 150, 151, 165, 
170, 177, 193, 213, 218, 219 

Mark Antony, 77, 272 

Marseillais Federals, 1 84, 185, 188, 
190 seq. 

" Marseillaise, The," 185 
Marseilles, 102, 112, 139, 162 
Masson-Denizot, 294 
Massulard, 158 
Matton, 286, 319 
Maupeou, R. N. A. de, 195 
" May 31st, day of," 209, 211 
Mercier, L. S., " Nouveau 

Tableau de Paris," 89 
" Tableaux de Paris," 95, 127 

" Mercure Frangais," 162 
Mericourt, Theroigne de, 107, 

108, 192, 193 
Merlin, Antoine (de Thionville), 

182, 200 
Michelet, J., " Historical View of 

the French Revolution," 1 34, 

243, 271, 272, 319 
Mignet, J. H., "The French 

Revolution," 319 
Mint, The, 297 
Miot de Melito, "Memoirs," 

263, 320 
Mirabeau, Gabriel-Honore de 

Riquetti, 46, 51, 55, 80, 85, 


Friendship with Camille, 96 

Coldness between them, 108 

Influence over Camille, 134 
Last days and death, 137 seq. 
Mirabeau-Tonneau, 103, 118 
Modena, 239 
Moleville, Bertrand de, 63 
Momoro, 54, 75, 80, 261, 269 
Monge, G., 194 
" Moniteur, The," 49, 254 
Monk, General, 177 
Monseignat, Charles de, " His- 
toire des Journaux de 
France," loi, 104, 319 
Monselet, Charles, " Histoire 
Anecdotique du Tribunal 
Revolutionaire," 320 



Moore, Dr., " Memoirs," 319 

Morcy, 22 

Moreau de Jonnes, 122 

" Mountain, The," 201, 209, 273 


Nancy, 120, 165 

Nantes, 269 

Nantouillet, 248 

National (Constituent) Assembly, 

56,73,80, 81,99, III, 116, 

166, 168 
National Convention, 168, 198, 

199, 201, 203, 205, 210, 211, 

236, 243, 269, 272, 289, 304 
National Guard, 68, 118, 153,162 
National Oath, 1 11 
Necker, Jacques, 51, 58, 60, 61, 

64, 97, 103 
Nero, 165, 202 
Neuf Soeurs, Lodge of the, 45 
Nicolas, 247 seq. 
Nivernais, Hotel de, 95 
Normandy, 212 
" Notes upon the Report of 

Saint-Just," 291 
Notre Dame, Cathedral of, 166 
Nursia, 239 


Octavius, 272 

" October 5th, day of," 99, 100 

" Ode upon the opening of the 

States-General," 50 
" Orateur du Peuple," 1 12 
Orleans, Duke of, 51, 52, 55, 64, 

158, 204, 298, 300 
Orleans, Regent of, 80 
Otriades, 81 

Palais Royal, 53, 55, 57, 59, 64, 

Pancemont, de, 126 

Panis, 277 

Paris, temper of, in July, 1789, 
56, 59, 66, 6-] 

Optimism in, 1790, lii 

Mourning for Mirabeau in, 
140, 141 

Attitude after return from 
Varennes in, 151 

Counter-revolutionary move- 
ment in, 157, 165 seq. 

Counter-revolutionary move- 
ment after execution of 
" ultras," 276 

Citizens of, demoralised by 
executions, 246 

Municipality of, 73, 160, 163, 
178, 185, 194, 211, 241 
Paris, Nicolas-Joseph (Fabricius), 

293, 294, 296, 305, 306 
Pas Perdus, Cour de, 297 
" Patriote Frangais," 129, 171 
Patrocles, 115 
Paulus Emilius, 74, 116 
Peltier, J. S., 24, 135 
Perdry, 36 
" Pere Duchesne," 88, 102, 228, 

229, 249 seq., 268, 269 
Perfectibilists, Order of, 45 
Perrin, 36 

Perry, Sampson, 214 
" Peter Pan," 109 
Petion, Jerome, 46, 118, 127,. 
128, 151, 158, 178, 180, 184, 
210, 212 
Petitions against Property Suf- 
frage Laws, 146, 168 
In the Champ-de-Mars, 158, 
159, 160, 202 
Philippe le Bel, 79 
Philippeaux, 236, 251, 255 seq., 
281, 290, 293, 296, 309, 310 
" Philosophe au Peuple Fran^ais, 

La," 49 
Picards, character of, 20 
Pitt, William, 229, 240, 251, 284 
Plato, 212 



Pologne, Hotel de, 37, 42 
Pont Neuf, 162, 297 
Procope, Cafe (Cafe Voltaire), 37 
Proly, 233, 300 
Provence, Count of, 206 
Provisional Executive Council, 

194, 199 
Prudhomme, Louis-Marie, 162 
Public Safety, Committee of, 

208, 216, 227, 238, 247, 250, 

254, 262, 269, 275, 276, 294, 

296, 301, 302 
" Purification," ceremony of, 

233, 234 
Pym, John, 28 

R . 

Radziville, Passage, 171 

Raimond, 210 

Reason, Cult of, 231 

" Reflexions sur le 20 Juin, 

1792," 180 
" Register of Occurrences and 

Historical Sketch," 214 
Renaudin, Leopold, 294 
Republicanism in France, 28, 81, 

149, 152, 159, 160, 170, 173, 

. I74> 273 
Retif de la Bretonne, 135 
Reunion-sur-Oise, 31 
Revolution, Place de la, 74, 246, 


Revolutionary Tribunal, the, 88, 
208, 209, 210, 234, 248, 264, 
287, 289, 293, 313 
" Revolutions de France et de 
Brabant," 100 j-^^., iii, 117, 
119, 145, 162, 170, 174, 175, 
200, 264 
" Revolutions de Paris," 120, 162 
Robert, 160, 189, 190, 191, 266 
Robert, Madame, 189, 266 
Robespierre, J. M. L de, 38, 43, 
46, 48, 51, 94, 109, no 
Defends Camille in the As- 
sembly, 117 

Attends CamiUe's vi^edding, 

127 seq., 134, 150, 158, 168, 

173 seq., 185, 186, 188, 209 

Inspires " Histoire des Bris- 

sotins," 210 seq. 
Influences first numbers of 
" Vieux Cordelier," 227 seq. 
Defends Camille at the Jaco- 
bins, 235, 236 
Deserts Camille, 243, 249, 255, 

Denounces Camille at the 

Jacobins, 259 seq. 

Attacks the " ultras," 269 

Signs warrant for the arrest of 

the Dantonists, 276, 277, 

286, 288, 289, 291, 298, 311 

Robespierre, Augustin B. J. de, 

25, 256, 257 
Robespierre, Charlotte de, 25, 

286, 287 
Robinet, H., " Proces des Dan- 
tonistes," 277, 320 
" Comment se tuent les Re- 
publiques," 277, 320 
Roland de la Platiere, J. M., 177, 

179, 194, 199 
Roland, Madame Marie, J. P., 

169, 171, 319 
" Rolandists, The," 169 
Romeuf, 150 
Romme, Gilbert, 46 
Ronsin, 236, 269 
Rossignol, 236 
Rouillard, 43 
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 42, 45, 

I3i> 244, 260 
Royal AUemand, Regiment of 

the, 65 
Ruhl, 277 

Sainte-Amaranthe, the family of, 

43, 122, 320 
Saint-Andre-des-Arcs, Rue de, 37 



Saint-Antoine, Faubourg, 68, 69, 

Sainte-Beuve, Charles A., 43 
Saint-Cloud, Palace of, 144 
Saint-Denis, cathedral of, 203 
Saint-Fran9ois, Rue, 54 
Saint-Honore, Rue, 74, 274, 309, 

Saint-Huruge, Marquis de, 93, 94 
Saint-Jean d'Angely, 120 
St. John, Gospel of, 83 
Saint- Just, A. L. L, de, 25, 113, 

215, 2i6, 231, 249, 269, 270 
Denounces the Dantonists, 277 
Report against them, 289 seq., 

296, 300, 301 
Secures their condemnation, 

303 seq. 
Saint-Malo, 175 
Saint-Marceau, Faubourg de, 68, 

69, 70, 185 
Sainte-Menehould, 150 
Sainte-Pelagie, Prison of, 313 
Saint-Pierre, J. H. Bernardin de, 


Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul, 

Church of, 19 
Saint-Simon, L. H. due de, 20 
Saint-Sulpice, Church of, 126, 

Salle d'Offremont, de la, 68 
Sallust, 212 
" Sansculotte Jesus," 88, 89, 269, 

Sanson, Henri, 105, 308, 311, 312, 

Santerre, Antoine J., 69, 161, 163, 

Saugrain, C. M., " Nouveau 

Voyage de France," 20, 320 
Saumur, 236 
Scipio Nasica, 232 
Seneca, 200, 212 
September Massacres, the, 187, 

Sergent, Antoine F., 159 

Servan de Gerbey, J., 194 

Shakespeare, William, 77 

Sidney, Algernon, 29, 173, 253 

Sieyes, Emmanuel Joseph, 168 

Sillery, C. A., Comte de Genlis, 
127, 128 

" Silver Mark " property qualifi- 
cation, 146 

Simon, 284 

Smyth, William, " Lectures on 
the French Revolution," 319 

Socrates, 284 

Soissons, 199 

Sombreuil, C. F. V'irot, Marquis 
de, 70 

Sorbonne, Rue, 316 

Sosia, 83 

Souberbielle, 294 

Sourd, La, 192 

" Souvenirs de la Terreur," 43 

Sparta, 81 

States-General, Convocation of 
the, 47 
Opening of the, 50 . 
Becomes "National Assembly," 

55, 56 
Mirabeau's estimate of, 99 
Strasburg, 295 

Suleau, L. F., 24, 190, 192, 193 
" Suspects," Law of, 238, 241 
Swiss Guards, 120, 191, 192 
Swiss Restaurant, 119 
Sybel, Heinrich von, " French 

Revolution," 63, 104, 249, 


Tacitus, 26, 238, 240, 246, 250 
Taine, H., " Les Jacobins," 319 
Talon, Antoine, 116 
Target, G. J. B., 73, 74, 94 
Tarquin, 80, 286 
Tarrieux de Taillan, 33 
TelUer, de, 84 

" Temple of the National As- 
sembly, the," 107 



Temple, Tower of the, 194 

" Tennis Court Oath, The," 54, 

55, 179 
Terray, Abbe, 135 
" Terror, The," 169, 219, 228 
Theatre Fran§ais, Rue de, 36, 

107, 128, 133 
Theatre Frangais, Section of, 146, 

Thiers, L, A., " Histoire de la 

Revolution Frangaise," 177, 

Topino-Lebrun, F. J.B.,295, 299, 

Toulon, 112, 131, 132, 264, 265, 

Tournay, Louis, 72 
" Tribune des Patriots, Le," 172, 

. 173, i74» ^n 

Tricolour, the, 68 
Trinchard, 294 
Tuileries, Gardens of, d^, 149 
Tuileries, Palace of, 99, 149, 151, 

179, 189, 193, 194, 302 
Tussaud, Madame, 65 


" Ultras, The," 84, 228 seq., 238, 
24s, 247, 249, 250, 269, 276, 


Vadier, M. G. A., 299 

Valaze, C. E. du F. de, 169 

Valerius Maximus, 268 

Vannerie, Rue de la, 83 

Varennes, 136, 144, 147, l50,-202 

Vendee, La, 207, 217, 236, 237, 

Vendome, Place, 158 
Vergniaud, Pierre V., 169, 205, 

212, 233 

Vermandois, Electors of, 49, 76 
Vernon, Battle of, 212 
Versailles, 51, 56, 58, 98, 99, 117 
Vertot, R. A., " Revolutions 

Romaines," 27 
"Vervins, Journal de," 21 
" Veto, The," 175, 179 
Viefville des Essarts, de, 23, 49, 

" Vieux Cordelier," 60, 88, 134, 

226 seq., 237, 242 seq., 258 

seq., 268 seq., 279, 286, 287, 

Vilate, " Memoirs," 220 
Ville, Hotel de, 68, 69, 70, 72, 74, 

182, 190, 207 
Vincennes, Fortress of, 68 
Voltaire, F. M. Arouet de, 45, 

Vouland, 299, 304, 305 


Washington, George, 28, 173 
Wattignies, Battle of, 219 
Weishaupt, the Illuminate, 45 
Westermann, General F. J., 292, 

2935 29s, 300, 304, 309 
Whittier, J. G., 18 
Wiege, 32 
WilHams, Helen Maria, 62, 209, 

Wimp fen, General, 212 
Witt, Jean de, 253 

Young, Arthur, " Travels in 

France," 53, 319 
Young, Edward, " Night 

Thoughts," 280